- March 7, 2022
A city utility worker molested children at a group home for two years, giving the victims items in exchange for sex acts, according to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.
"To anyone who thinks they’ll get away with preying on our children, here’s the reminder that we will not stop until you’re arrested and unable to hurt another child ever again."
— RICK STALY, Flagler County sheriff
Suspect Peter James Strickland, 32, recorded video of those acts and admitted to detectives that he'd bribed the victims, according to an FCSO news release.
The victims were girls ranging in age from 13 to 17.
The FCSO began investigating after someone submitted a delayed sex offense complaint on July 6 about crimes against children living at the group home.
Detectives got search warrants and an arrest warrant for Strickland and questioned him at his workplace.
He told them that he had molested the victims about 15 times over the past two years, according to the news release.
The FCSO Digital Forensics Unit and the Volusia Sheriff’s Office Electronics Detection K-9 searched Strickland's home on Bassett Lane in Palm Coast, seizing dozens of items, according to the news release.
Strickland's arrest reports do not say what kind of group home the victims were living in, who oversaw it or how many children were there. A Sheriff's Office spokesman declined to release that information July 31, noting that the investigation is is ongoing.
Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly credited the FCSO's Major Case Unit and Digital Forensics Unit with finding the evidence that led to Strickland's arrest.
“Anyone who takes away a child’s innocence deserves to be behind bars forever," Staly said, according to the news release. "I hope this arrest will allow some closure to the victims, and they are able to get the help they need. And to anyone who thinks they’ll get away with preying on our children, here’s the reminder that we will not stop until you’re arrested and unable to hurt another child ever again! I would also like to thank Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, specifically their electronics sniffing K-9 for helping us locate the evidence.”
Mayor David Alfin said he was glad that the Sheriff's Office caught Strickland, and that it was unfortunate that Strickland was a city utility worker.
"“It is unfortunate that he was a utility worker, but to our knowledge, he did not do any of this disgusting behavior while working," Alfin said, according to the news release. "I have faith in the sheriff’s investigation and that the criminal justice system will hold him accountable.
Strickland is charged with "unlawful sexual activity with certain minors," a second-degree felony. His bond has been set at $100,000.
Additional charges are pending as the investigation continues.
The Sheriff's Office has urged anyone who believes they were victimized by Strickland to call the FCSO at 386-313-4911.