Babcock Ranch man accused of sex with minor was Iranian hostage, former Florida law enforcement officer

Published: September 20, 2022 4:21 PM EDT
Updated: September 20, 2022 6:11 PM EDT

A former Army sergeant who was held hostage decades ago in Iran is now accused of sexual misconduct with minors.

Joseph Subic Jr., 66, of Babcock Ranch, is now in jail. Investigators say he paid teenage girls for nudes and to have sex with him at hotels and at his home.

The St. Petersburg Police Department says this began as an investigation into runaway teens. Then they got a tip that an “Older guy” was paying underage girls to meet him in hotel rooms for sex and nude pictures.

That older guy is Subic, a former Iranian hostage turned police chief.

Water Cronkite famously got in front of the camera and kept count of how many days Iran held 52 Americans hostage.

Joseph Subic Jr. was one of them. While everyone hailed the 52 as heroes when they came home in January 1981, Americans learned later that the Army denied him a medal because while in captivity, Subic appeared in a film criticizing the role of the United States in Iran.

That film was never broadcast in the U.S.

Subic went to work in law enforcement here in Florida after returning to the U.S. He went back and forth between being a police officer and a sheriff’s deputy, eventually taking over as police chief at the Williston Police Department. He left when the department went over budget.

In 2001, he got the chief’s job at the White Springs Police Department. Six years later, that department fired him for insurance fraud for putting his girlfriend on his policy as a dependent.

Now, Subic’s behind bars for having sex with more than one underage girl in Pinellas County.

“That’s pretty scary. On several levels,” said Vanessa Jacobs, who lives in Babcock Ranch.

Jacobs lives down the street from Subic’s house in Babcock Ranch. “The children were obviously in danger, and the teenagers were obviously in danger at some point.”

St. Petersburg police say Subic would leave his home in Charlotte County and travel there to pay runaway girls for nude photos and sex.

“It’s just concerning that he was willing to travel from what we found out to other places. Luckily enough, I would say I keep my children GPS locked,” said Matt Weisler, of Babcock Ranch.

A glance around Babcock Ranch and it’s clear it is designed for families.

A break in the peaceful routine sticks out.

“We sat here and watched, roughly about 15-20 forensic agents that go in and out of the house,” said Weisler.

“We could tell they were taking pictures upstairs because you can see the flash at that time,” said Jacobs.

Law enforcement was in and around Subic’s house.

“It was just more or less of, OK, what’s going on? And do we really know this person?” said Weisler.

Weisler then answered his question. No. They never see him and never hear him. Now, he is glad he never got to know the guy across the street.

“It starts checking out some more red flags my little playbook in my head,” Weisler said.

The red flags flew up when Weisler learned the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and St. Petersburg police said Subic paid runaway teenage girls to meet him at hotel rooms and have sex and give him nude pictures.

“I can see where it’d be more concerning of like, how could this happen to us or in this neighborhood or anything else like that?” said Weisler.

It left Jacobs wondering how this could be a veteran, a former police chief, and someone who clearly knows what he’s doing wrong. “It’s kind of scary to have someone that close by, and you don’t know anything about him, to have these allegations.”

Subic is being held in Miami, but he’s expected to be transferred over to Pinellas County and held on a $300,000 bond.