SAFETY HARBOR — Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a 63-year-old Safety Harbor man Sept. 7 after he reportedly kidnapped and molested a 9-year-old girl.
Paul Gary Morgan was charged with kidnapping, lewd and lascivious molestation and child abuse. He is being held in the Pinellas County Jail. No bail was set on the lewd and lascivious molestation charge. Bail was $150,000 for the kidnapping charge and $5,000 for child abuse.
Deputies responded to a report of a kidnapping at a residence in Safety Harbor about 3:18 p.m. on Saturday.
Deputies say a 9-year-old girl was playing in a neighbor’s front yard with two other children when an unidentified man walked up to the girl and asked to see her panties. When the girl refused, the man grabbed the girl and dragged her to the backyard of the residence.
Two of her friends, a 4-year-old girl and a 6-year-old girl, followed and tried confronting the man.
Deputies say while in the backyard of the residence, the man lifted the girl’s skirt and tried pulling down her underwear before inappropriately touching her.
Deputies say the man also grabbed the 4-year-old girl by the shoulder and pushed her while she was yelling at him to stop. During the struggle, the 9-year-old was able to break free and run away. The girl’s mother called 911 after she tried confronting the man and he fled the scene on foot.
When deputies responded, they located Morgan walking in the area. Deputies say Morgan matched the physical description provided by witnesses. Deputies say the witnesses positively identified Morgan as the suspect.
Witnesses told deputies that Morgan frequents their neighborhood but he was not known to them.
When deputies interviewed Morgan, he reportedly admitted to speaking with the victim.
Deputies say Morgan suffers from an intellectual disability. He is a resident at the Harbor Point Assisted Living Facility in Safety Harbor.