[PHOTO CREDIT: Lake County Sheriff’s Office]
[Original Publish Date: 01/04/21]
EUSTIS, Florida — A Eustis man who was armed with two knives and a firearm when police found him with two juvenile females— one of whom was overdosing— has been released on $7,000 bond after being arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and felony child abuse on Wednesday.
An officer with Eustis Police Department was conducting a property check early Wednesday morning at Woodland Center, 1950 North State Road 19, when he found a 16-year-old girl sitting on a bench at the plaza. The girl told EPD she ran away from a local group home, along with two other 16-year-old girls, and they walked to a gas station where they met Joel Rivera, 39, according to an arrest affidavit.
Rivera invited the trio of girls to his house and they walked to the house, which EPD later found on Frosti Way. The girl told police the other two girls were at Rivera’s house and one of them may be overdosing on cold medicine. The girl was unable to tell officers where Rivera’s house was located, but did show them, the affidavit states.
EPD arrived at Rivera’s home and Rivera allowed them to look for the two girls. Officers went into a bedroom and found one girl on the floor and one sitting on the bed. One of the girls “appeared dazed and confused and (redacted) was unable to answer simple questions,” the affidavit states. Due to heavy redaction in the affidavit, it is unclear if the officer was referring to the girl on the bed, or the girl on the floor.
Police detained Rivera and found two knives and a loaded firearm in his pocket; Rivera claimed he grabbed the gun when officers knocked on the door because he did not know who was at the door, the affidavit states. Police rendered aid to the girl who appeared to be overdosing and the second girl fled but was quickly apprehended. She told police the first girl took eight cold pills before the trio met Rivera at a nearby gas station. Rivera invited the girls back to his house to “hang out” and smoke marijuana and the group walked to Rivera’s house, where they smoked “a lot” of marijuana, one of the girls said.
One of the girls, whose name is also redacted, told officers Rivera touched her hips and began to kiss her and she was “too high” to say anything. She said Rivera had sex with her and that it was the first time she ever had sexual intercourse.
Rivera was questioned and he told police the girls told him they were 18, 19 and 20 and he did invite them to his house; once there one of the girls started acting strange and he called a friend and said he thought she might be overdosing. The unknown friend told Rivera to “watch” her and call 9-1-1 if her condition worsened. Rivera told police he approached one of the girls and began to “make out with her but nothing more.”
Rivera was arrested for felony child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Rivera’s clothing and the victim’s clothing were collected and submitted into evidence, according to the booking sheet.
Lake Legal News asked EPD why Rivera was not charged with a sex crime. “The investigation is ongoing,” said EPD Cpl. Lauren Brown.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Marilyn M. Aciego, began writing for Lake Legal News in 2010. Born and raised in Lake County, she is a graduate of Umatilla High School and Lake-Sumter State College. She started her journalism career at LSSC, where she was editor of both student publications, The Angler and The Odyssey. Her professional career began at the Daily Commercial in 2004 where she covered cops and courts the majority of her time there until she left in 2009. Currently, along with being Editor-in-Chief of Lake Legal News, she is the Florida bureau chief for an international media organization. She has made more than two dozen appearances on live national television, including Nancy Grace and the Greta Van Susteren show, along with her appearance on Evil Twins. Contact her with breaking news, tips, and feedback by sending an e-mail to 352Tips@gmail.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page — and make sure you “Like” and “Follow us” there. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]