A 31-year-old Palm Coast man was arrested June 29 on charges that he sexually molested his girlfriend's 11-year-old daughter.
The man, Wellwater Drive resident John Joseph Schenone, faces two charges of committing lewd and lascivious molestation of a child.
The mother reported the crime to a Sheriff’s Office detective at the Palm Coast precinct June 28, according to a Sheriff’s Office charging affidavit.
She told the detective that she’d repeatedly found Schenone in her daughter’s room with the bedroom door closed and locked. When she knocked, Schenone “would open the door, explaining that he was helping (the victim) catch her pet hamster or that he was checking on the kids,” according to the detective’s summary of the mother’s statement.
It happened again at about 4 a.m. June 28, as the mother got out of the shower and again noticed that bedroom door locked. When she knocked, her husband said he was catching the hamster.
But her daughter later said Schenone had been touching her inappropriately. The girl described to her mother how Schenone had touched her genitalia, and said he’d done it between one and three times a week for months, usualy at times when he thought she was asleep.
After the mother reported the crime, staff members from the Department of Children and Families and a Child Protective Team met the mother and the victim at the Sheriff’s Office. There were also two other children in the home — a 13-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl — both of whom provided statements to law enforcement. The victim told the Child Protective Team investigator in a recorded statement that Schenone molested her June 27 in the family's bathroom and June 28 in her bedroom. She said it had happened about 50 times over about eight months.
The mother then placed a law enforcement-recorded phone call to Schenone at about 10:05 p.m., saying her daughter had told her everything and that she and the victim were both willing to forgive him if he was honest about what happened.
At first, he denied the accusations, and many of his statements were redacted in the charging affidavit. But the mother at one point in a later phone conversation “reminded (Schenone) that he admitted to her three times that he (touched the victim sexually),” and in a third call, when the mother referenced those incidents again, according to the report, Schenone “immediately insisted that (the mother) come home to help him get over how bad he feels about the situation.”
After pressed him to be honest, he said something to her — exactly what is redacted in the report — and cited “work and the economy as major stressors in his life.”
He spent the rest of the conversation begging the girlfriend to come home that evening — she’d said she wanted to stay away to process everything — and “explaining that he is very upset about what happened and that he needs her home to make him feel better,” and telling her that he loved her.
Law enforcement did not complete a medical exam on the victim, but did collect some of her clothing as evidence.
Deputies booked Schenone at the Flagler County jail at 8:52 a.m. June 29. He remained incarcerated as of the afternoon of June 30.
Schenone had one prior arrest, for a domestic violence assault in November of 2007, according to county jail records.