A Florida man arrested for molesting an 8-year-old girl claimed she was dressed provocatively and wanted sexual contact when he assaulted her, officials said.
The little girl told police that in July 2016, she was walking to a friend’s house when a neighbor, known as “Dread,” asked if she could help him carry food into his kitchen, an arrest affidavit from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said.
The man, identified as Sydney Allan Markland, appeared to have a broken leg, the child said.
But once the little girl was inside his Ocala home, Markland, then 67, sexually battered her, police said.
After the sexual assault, Markland told her not to tell anyone what happened, kissed the child on the cheek and read from the bible, the affidavit said.
Investigators said that Markland initially denied touching the girl and voluntarily provided a DNA sample, which, months later, came back as a match to the DNA left on the victim’s clothes.
Markland allegedly told detectives that the little girl came into his home wearing provocative clothing and said that her “actions” suggested she was consenting to sexual contact, the affidavit said.
Markland faces several charges, including sexual assault on a victim under 12, lewd and lascivious behavior and molesting a victim under 12, authorities said.
He was transported to Marion County Jail last Friday, where he remained after being denied bond.
Markland, who is originally from Jamaica and is Muslim, allegedly said that his culture is different and said his actions were acceptable, police said.
He also allegedly admitted to being “familiar” with children in the neighborhood, leading investigators to believe he may have done this to other children, officials said.
Markland has no previous criminal history in Marion County, authorities said.
As of Wednesday, no other alleged victims had come forward.
Police urged anyone with information about additional victims to call Detective Daniel Pinder at 352-368-3508 or if a person wished to remain anonymous, contact the Crime Stoppers of Marion County at 352-368-STOP.