CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. – On Thursday, 36-year-old Russell Thomas Florence of Homosassa, Florida, pled guilty to Lewd and Lascivious Molestation of a Child under 12.
He was then sentenced to 35 years incarceration with the Florida Department of Corrections, lifetime Sexual Offender Probation, and will be required to register as a Sexual Predator.
“This is a horrendous case of an adult using a child for sexual gratification instead of protecting them,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Cases like this shock the community and take a dedicated team to seek justice for their victims. Detective Mission’s quick and pivotal action in this case saved this child from further abuse at the hands of Florence. I am extremely proud of the CCSO team, the Child Protection Team, and the State Attorney’s Office for their efforts in taking predators like Florence off the streets of Citrus County.”
Florence was arrested by the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) on April 19, 2022, for Capital Sexual Battery on a Child less than 12, and had remained in custody at the Citrus County Detention Facility without bond.
Earlier that day, the CCSO was contacted by a concerned citizen in reference to possible sexual abuse of a child. Detective Mike Mission with the CCSO Special Victim’s Unit (SVU) was assigned to the case and immediately began investigating the incident.
The victim was interviewed by the Child Protection Team (CPT) at Jessie’s Place, the Citrus County child advocacy center. During the interview the victim detailed years of ongoing sexual abuse by Florence.
Following the interview with the victim, Detective Mission served a search warrant at Florence’s residence, located within Citrus County, where multiple items of evidence were collected.
Florence, who was at the residence when detectives arrived, was placed under arrest and turned over to the custody of the Citrus County Detention Facility.