Reports of child sex abuse at a Summerfield school have resulted in the accused worker pleading no contest
to a child molestation charge and being sentenced to serve 10 years of sex-offender probation
David Solomon Lanham, 31, was accused of having a child touch his genitals while Lanham was clothed. The incident allegedly occurred in March 2010 at the Royal Child Academy in Summerfield.
Lanham pleaded no contest to one count of lewd or lascivious conduct, which is a second-degree felony, as part of a plea agreement with the State Attorney's Office. The state dropped all 18 other charges that Lanham faced.
The prosecutor in the case, Bryon Aven, said problems with the case led to the plea agreement.
"There were issues altogether with the David Lanham case,"
Lanham's defense attorney, Henry Ferro, said there were several issues with the Sheriff's Office investigation that led to inconclusive evidence.
"The investigation done by the Sheriff's Office was such poor quality," Ferro said.
Among other things, Ferro said one of the detectives perjured herself during a deposition
. He also said investigators never obtained a search warrant and interviewed a 5-year-old boy associated with the case against his will
"He was held there against his will until he made some rather incriminating statements," Ferro said.
Ferro said he plans to file a lawsuit against the Marion County Sheriff's Office based on its handling of Lanham's case.
Some of the allegations from other victims were also considered inconclusive. All in all, Ferro said, Lanham entered into the plea agreement with the State Attorney's Office to avoid the possibility of prison time if the case had gone to trial.
Lt. Chris Vorisek said that he was told by the State Attorney's Office that it was not going to pursue Ferro's perjury allegations against the detective.
In addition to probation, Lanham must undergo a psychosexual evaluation within 30 days and meet a curfew. He must also have no unsupervised contact with children younger than 18.
In one of the alleged incidents, a girl told her 10-year-old friend that she and Lanham pretended to go on a date, kissed each other, and showed each other their genitals, according to a Sheriff's Office report.
An 11-year-old boy said he had several encounters with Lanham at a summer camp at the child care facility, and that they engaged in sexual acts in 2009.
The victim told sheriff's authorities that Lanham took him out to eat or to other places and then would come back and take him to vacant dormitories at the camp or bathrooms to engage in the sex acts.