Sex offender arrested in Texas on new Charlotte County charges

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Mugshot of Timothy Rice, 41. (Credit: CCSO)
Mugshot of Timothy Rice, 41. (Credit: CCSO)

A registered sex offender previously living in North Port has been arrested while out on bail in Texas. He faces new charges after information has come to light about three new victims in Charlotte County. The charges are related to incidents with children at a regional pool.

The suspect, Timothy Rice, 41, faces three counts of Lewd/Lascivious Conduct and two counts of Lewd Lascivious Molestation, Victim less than 12 years old.

“It’s very scary to know people are out here doing things like that,” said Stephanie Willet in Port Charlotte.

The new charges stem from an investigation into a series of incidents that occurred in March at the Ann Dever Regional Park Pool in Charlotte County. Rice was previously arrested on March 25 after his behavior at the swimming pool caught the attention of parents and yielded several complaints to staff, according to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office press release.

Investigators say Rice brought toys like water guns to the pool to get children to approach him. It was the same tactic that earned him his sex offender title more than 20 years ago. Police in Hillsborough County arrested Rice in 1998, and a jury convicted him of molesting five young children.

“It’s just a very easy way for him to kind of solicit,” said Katie Heck with Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. “A way for people coming to him instead of having to approach the victims.”

MORE: Registered sexual predator arrested at park swimming pool

Rice was previously arrested for a first-degree misdemeanor of prowling by a sex offender nearby children.

“These are people that are professionals at being a predator,” Heck said. “They are good at what they do. This is their crime.”

Following that arrest, several parents contacted CCSO to speak with detectives about Rice’s interactions their kids at the pool, per the press release. Interviews with the children found the interactions involved physical contact with the suspect that was sexual or inappropriate.

The sheriff’s office said this is a good reminder for parents o watch if their children are interacting with strangers this summer. CCSO encourages other parents to come talk to investigators if they think their children was in contact with Rice.

“I don’t want to judge people people and think everybody’s bad,” Willett said. “But I rather keep my eyes open and know that I’m more aware than not to be aware.”

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