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Detectives say parents ID’d kids in porn found on Charlotte County man’s phone

Charlotte County parents were forced to identify their children in porn found on a phone belonging to a man accused of sex crimes against minors.

Investigators say James Palmucci’s victims are between the ages of 10 and 14, and some of them are siblings. He faces 83 charges – and more are expected.

The investigation started in August when several 14-year-old girls reported sexual encounters with Palmucci. He told detectives he didn’t do anything, that the girls were mad at him because he wouldn’t buy them drugs or alcohol, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office is looking for any other victims who may have had contact with Palmucci, 48.

“This case in Charlotte County is absolutely one of the biggest cases that we’ve seen recently,” said Sarah Pretorius, advocacy and philanthropy coordinator with Selah Freedom, a sex trafficking awareness group.

Pretorius said it’s crucial if there are more victims out there, that they come forward, and the next few months are critical for the victims who have already said they were abused.

“It traumatizes them 100% and it exposes them to complex emotions such as guilt and shame,” she said.

“He most likely made them feel that, you know, this was a secret between them, that if they told anyone that they would get in trouble, that their parents might not believe them.”

Palmucci is facing 83 charges, from molestation to battery. Deputies say they also found child porn on his phone during a search warrant.

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida partners with the sheriff’s office in some cases like this. Their child protection team director said the healing process for these victims starts at home.

“The most important thing is that these children remain safe, are in a home with caregivers who are going to support them,” said Sarah Scozzafava, director of the child protection team at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida.

How did detectives close their case against Palmucci? They had him strip down after an interview and found two moles near his pelvic area – the same moles detectives say they saw in the pornographic images.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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