At approximately 4:30 am, Saturday, December 17, 2011, Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested 40-year-old Arnold Maurice Mathis, 2705 Avenue I NW, Winter Haven, charging him with Sexual Battery on a 14-year-old child. The victim is currently 21-years-old.
The victim contacted PCSO deputies on Friday, December 16, 2011, advising them of the sexual battery incidents which took place over a period of two months approximately six years ago, and which occurred at several locations to include the suspect’s home.
The suspect first met the victim at a local basketball game and approached the victim offering to “help” the victim financially and to buy the victim new shoes. The victim had no father figure in his life at the time and believed the suspect was trying to mentor him. The suspect provided the victim his phone number and the victim contacted the suspect the next day.
The suspect, who was 34-years of age at the time, arranged to meet with the victim at a local park, and later took the victim to the suspect’s residence where he performed oral sex on the 14-year-old boy. After engaging in sex with the victim, the suspect gave the victim a $100 bill and told him to buy a pre-paid phone to allow them to have more contact. Over the course of the two months, the suspect continued to engage the victim in sexual activity and provided gifts and money after.
Mathis is charged with 5 counts of Sexual Battery by a Person of Authority on a child over 12 under 18. Mathis was designated a Registered Sexual Offender from a 1997 Leon County conviction, for which he spent four years in prison. Mathis was arrested by PCSO in August 2004 and January 2011 for Failure To Register as a Sex Offender.
Mathis told detectives he is the current Assistant Pastor of Higher Praise Ministries, located in Lake Wales. In 2005, Mathis was the Senior Pastor for Saint City Power and Raise Ministries in Winter Haven.