A correctional officer in Gulf County who formerly resided in Franklin County has been charged with multiple felonies pertaining to sexual battery on an underage foster daughter.
Robert Lawrence Parrish, 55, was arrested July 26 at Gulf Correctional Institution near Wewahitchka, and taken to Franklin County, where he was booked on two counts of sexual battery by familial or custodial, sexual battery involving serious physical force or with deadly weapon, lewd or lascivious molestation - victim under 12 years of age, and sexual battery on child under 12 years of age. He was not granted bond.
According to the probable cause affidavit, on Dec. 3, 2015, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Supervisor Tonja Bryant-Smith received a call from Lauren Tomberlin, victim advocate with the state attorney’s office.
Tomberlin said she had spoken with an individual who said she had been the victim of sexual battery while in Liberty County, but did not want to make the report in that county due to the suspect, Parrish, “allegedly having a close relationship with the Liberty County sheriff.”
FDLE Special Agents Erika Hindle and Tara Galinos were assigned to interview Parrish, which they did at FDLE’s Tallahassee Regional Operations Center.
Much of the affidavit is then redacted, but it does say that the alleged victim and another individual were placed in the Liberty County home of Robert and Paula Parrish.
The victim alleged Robert Parrish started to sexually abuse her when she was 11, and that when she was in eighth grade in 2009, their Liberty County home burned down and they relocated to Franklin County.
While living in Franklin, the victim said Parrish began committing sexual battery, telling her “he could not have kids so he wasn’t worried about it.”
The affidavit said the victim complained loudly to Parrish, who would sometimes grab her “and kick her down the stairs. (He) would then grab (her) by the hair and drag her to his bedroom.”
The victim said Parrish would lock doors to keep out others in the family, and that after she told a friend at the school she was attending about the abuse, Parrish transferred the children to Franklin County.
The victim alleged she witnessed Parrish commit arson at their home in Franklin County. She said the abuse continued until she turned 18 and moved after the house.
In a telephone call monitored by FDLE agents, Parrish told the victim that “they could work it out and that he loved her” and did not deny the sexual abuse.
In an interview with FDLE agents, Parrish alleged the victim was “a sociopath” and denied committing the acts alleged.