- Olivia Hitchcock Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
After years of sexual assault, an 11-year-old told a school counselor last month about having endured persistent abuse, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office records state.
The alleged abuser — a 39-year-old man often trusted to care for the child and the child’s siblings — had been inappropriately touching the child since kindergarten, records state.
Leopoldo Flores Jr. of Port St. Lucie was arrested Oct. 27 on charges of child cruelty, obscene communication and public-order crimes. He is being held in the Palm Beach County Jail without the possibility of posting bail, court records state.
The child alleges that Flores’ physical abuse escalated over the years. In November 2016, with the permission of the child’s parents, Flores bought the child a cellphone, which he reportedly used to send the child sexually explicit messages and pictures through the application Snapchat. Messages sent on Snapchat delete after 10 seconds, unless they are saved.
He instructed the child to send him similar pictures nearly every day.
The child’s parents explained to authorities that Flores often babysat their children. He also would stay at their Palm Beach County home because he lived in Port St. Lucie but worked in Palm Beach Gardens.
Flores stayed with them for at least three days following Hurricane Irma, records state, because his home lost power.
The child didn’t report the abuse in part because of Flores’ threats, records state. He reportedly said that if the child’s parents found out, they’d send the child to boarding school.
The child also feared Flores because he had a gun. Records indicate he has a concealed-carry permit and frequently keeps a firearm on him.