Sex offender accused of molesting 6-year-old girl

Deputies: Girl's older sister allegedly caught act on video

By Erik Avanier - Reporter

LAKE CITY, Fla. - A registered sex offender who was previously convicted of two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct on a minor is now accused of molesting a girl under the age of 12.

Kirk Daniel Starling, 52, of Lake City, was arrested Sunday on one count of lewd and lascivious molestation.  

According to an arrest report obtained by News4Jax, the alleged molestation happened at a Lake City home within a very short walking distance from Starling’s residence, near U.S. 90. 

The report said that about 9:30 p.m. Sunday, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office was called to the victim’s residence in reference to a disturbance. When a deputy arrived on scene, the disturbance investigation turned into an investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct on a 6-year-old girl.

According to the report, when the mother got home from work, her youngest daughter told her that she was inappropriately touched by Starling. Her 11-year-old daughter said there was a video recording of the alleged inappropriate contact. The oldest daughter told her mother she was making a video with her tablet for fun around their home when she allegedly captured the moment when Starling grabbed her younger sister, the report stated.

"(Video evidence) is very rare and it is huge," said Sgt. Murray Smith, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office.

A relative told News4Jax the 6-year-old was outside her home with her older sister when the assault happened.

"This parent learned the information and called us immediately, which was a heads up," Murray said. 

Details about what was in the video were redacted from the arrest report, but the deputy who wrote the report said that he did review the video and spoke to the 6-year-old, who was visibly uncomfortable and scared. 

The young girl’s statements to the deputy were redacted, but after speaking to her, the deputy went to Starling’s residence, which is only 50 feet from the victim's home, according to the report.

Most of the conversation between Starling and the deputy was redacted from the report, but the report stated that Starling admitted to the deputy that he is a convicted sex offender who is not supposed to be around children when there is no other adult present.  

The deputy also wrote in the report that the victim’s older sister who recorded the video told him Starling had made her uncomfortable in the past by rubbing her thighs on more than one occasion. 

In 2002, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Starling was convicted on two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct on a child under the age of 16. He was released from prison in May 2010, Florida Department of Corrections records show.

The victim's aunt told News4Jax that the family had no idea Starling was a registered sex offender. Neighbors said the same thing. 

According to neighbors, Starling has lived at the Lake City home for months. But the FDLE Offenders and Predators Search website shows authorities received Starling's current address on March 28. Investigators said they are looking into why his address wasn't registered until recently, as well as whether other children may have been in contact with Starling. 

"There could be potential victims where the person lived before or there could have been more in the future here," Murray said. "One victim is too many."

Starling was booked Sunday evening into the Columbia County jail, where he remained on $100,000 bond as of Monday afternoon, online jail records show. 

According to the Sheriff's Office spokesperson, additional charges against Starling are pending. His bond could be increased should more charges be filed against him. 

In the wake of Starling's arrest, the Sheriff's Office is urging all residents to periodically check the FDLE Offenders and Predators Search website to see whether they live near any registered sexual offenders or predators. The Sheriff’s Office is also asking residents to check its Facebook and Twitter pages to get alerts when an offender or predator has just moved to the area. 

Currently, there are more than 90 convicted sex offenders and predators living in the 32055 ZIP code -- the same ZIP code Starling was living in.

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