A Haines City man was arrested early Friday morning after detectives learned that he had been touching a young child inappropriately for about two years.
Mario Bautista, 34, is being charged with lewd molestation. On several occasions, Bautista has touched an elementary school-aged child on the genitals and forced the child to touch him.
Detectives began investigating after the victim confided in a trusted adult, who then contacted law
enforcement and the Florida Department of Children and Families. Throughout the investigation, it was learned that the victim would be alone with Bautista when the inappropriate touching would take place.
The victim has lived in fear of Bautista since the touching began.
Bautista denied any intentional touching of the victim, but told investigators and family members that it could have happened by accident. Bautista did acknowledge to one incident about a month ago where he
touched the victim while the two were laying down together. Bautista denied all other incidents or touching any other children.
Bautista was arrested and transported to the Polk County Jail. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security was notified after the investigation revealed that Bautista is in the United States illegally.
“We will do everything in our power to make sure that this monster stays as far away from the victim as possible and where he belongs, in a cell,” Chief Jim Elensky said. “I commend the reportee, who prompted this investigation, which led to a predator being put behind bars. As always, if anyone has been a victim or knows of any other victims, we encourage them to come forward.”