CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - A former carnival worker accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2014 during the Clay County Fair was arrested Monday.
Timothy Peterson, 33, of Brewton, Alabama, faces one count of lewd battery.
Peterson was arrested in Brewton, which is located just over the state line from the Florida Panhandle, and brought to Clay County, where he was booked into jail on $25,000 bond.
The sexual assault case against Peterson began in April 2014 at the Clay County Fair. Investigators said Peterson met the victim while she was waiting in line to get onto a Sea Ray ride, which he was operating.
They met later in the carnival’s bunkhouse, where she said Peterson sexually assaulted her, according to an arrest affidavit.
Deggeller Attractions, which is based in Palm City, Florida, hired Peterson to operate the Sea Ray ride. A company spokesperson said Peterson was fired after some sort of complaint. That spokesperson also said Peterson passed a background check but “fell through the cracks.”
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said background checks vary. Some are simple, while others are more extensive.
“Even when you have an extensive background check, we’ve seen a few police officers now and then also fall through the cracks," Smith said. "So that’s going to happen even with a more extensive background check.”
A Google search showed Peterson was one of three people arrested in 2010 during a high-profile narcotics sting in Brewton. It’s unclear if Deggeller Attractions knew about that arrest.
News4Jax tried to contact the Clay County Fair for comment, but had not received a response as of Tuesday night.
Though a warrant was issued in 2014, it took three years to arrest Peterson. News4Jax was told investigators knew who employed him and how to get in contact with him, but specific details were redacted from the arrest report. It's likely it took several years because he was moving around a lot because of his job with the carnival company.
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