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In April, Charlie Hamrick, a former youth pastor at Pine Forest United Methodist Church and high school football coach in Pensacola,Florida, was arrested and charged with forty counts of child sexual abuse.
A Florida high school assistant football coach and youth pastor, who has been charged with more than 40 counts of child sex abuse, may have abused more victims, authorities say.
“We have identified an additional eight victims,” Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan tells PEOPLE.
The new victim tally came about after the sheriff’s office held a press conference last week to announce the arrest of 54-year-old Charlie Mabern Hamrick, who is accused of molesting young boys as far back as 1997.
“Anytime he had contact or was in a position that could almost be looked at as a target rich environment for someone of that proclivity, we wanted to make sure our community knew,” says Morgan.
The abuse allegedly occurred while Hamrick worked as a karate instructor, an assistant football coach at Tate High School in Pensacola, and as a Sunday school teacher and youth pastor at two local churches.
“Those are perfect venues if you are of that mindset,” says Morgan. “It is a steady stream of victims. They don’t wear certain clothes and they don’t look a certain way. Pedophiles come in all shapes and sizes.”
Morgan says he is doubtful more charges will be filed because the statute of limitations has expired on the eight cases.
“We are interviewing those victims and taking their reports and sworn testimony and providing that to the state attorney even though they won’t be filed on to the best of my knowledge,” Morgan says.
One of the alleged victims is a member of the armed services. “He made a call and he is currently on active duty and he passed along to us his contact and what it amounted to,” Morgan says.
Morgan says investigators are also looking into allegations that Hamrick gave unlicensed physical exams to Tate High School football players.
Police began investigating Hamrick last fall after three victims came forward claiming he allegedly exposed himself and inappropriately touched them while they were riding four-wheelers on his property and fishing in his pond, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
Another victim told police that Hamrick abused him several times when he was between the ages of 8 and 11. The abuse allegedly occurred at Hamrick’s home when his family was there, but they were unaware of the abuse, the paper reports.
Hamrick was charged in March with 40 counts of child abuse including sexual assault on a victim younger than 12, providing obscene material to minors, lewd and lascivious behavior on a victim younger than 12, and lewd and lascivious behavior on a victim age 12 to 16.
Prosecutors later dropped many of the charges against Hamrick, choosing to focus on the crimes that could result in life in prison for the defendant.
North Escambia reports:
Charlie Hamrick, 54, was originally charged with over 40 criminal counts, but now faces 10 charges — six counts of sexual battery on a child under 12, one court of giving obscene material to a minor and three counts of lewd and lascivious molestation. He remains in the Escambia County Jail without bond.
Thirty of the charges dropped by state were sexual battery on a child under 12 in a case that reaches back to 1997 when the alleged victim was as young as 8 years old. Six of the life felony charges in that case remain active.
“When spread over an extended period of time sometimes it is hard to prove the exact specifics of each individual incident down to the what happened and exactly when,” Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille said, explaining why the charges spanning 1997 to 2000 were dropped. “It is not unusual to limit the number of cases to cover all events.”
When law enforcement makes an arrest they do so on probably cause,” he said, “where we must prove each charge beyond a reasonable doubt.”
He said it can become more difficult as time passes for victims to remember specific events down to the time and place of each. Marcille stressed that eliminating such large number of charges in no way indicates that prosecutors do not believe they have a strong case against Hamrick.
“This does not mean that we believe there is a problem with any of the cases,” the assistant state attorney said.
If Hamrick is convicted on any one of the sexual battery on a child under 12 charges, he will face a required sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A November 28, 2017 Pensacola News Journal report states:
The alleged victim of former Tate High School assistant football coach Charlie Hamrick told a jury Tuesday that Hamrick began sexually abusing him as a child and that the abuse escalated over a period of years.
The victim, now 28, said Hamrick was a close family friend who abused him for years after the pair met at church. He said their two families grew so close he referred to Hamrick as his “uncle.”
Hamrick, 55, was arrested in March and charged with more than 40 counts of child sex offenses ranging from molestation to sexual assault over the course of 20 years from multiple victims. The state has since reduced some of those charges.
Some victims claimed Hamrick assaulted them through his work as a taekwondo instructor and others said he gave them unlicensed physicals while working at Tate High.
The trial that began Monday addresses one set of allegations pertaining to a then 8-year-old boy who said Hamrick touched him inappropriately during sleepovers and family trips from 1997 to about 2000.
Prosecutor Erin Ambrose told the jury during opening statements Tuesday morning that this case is built on secrets. She said the victim didn’t tell anyone the extent of what allegedly happened to him for 20 years because he thought what Hamrick did was not unusual.
The victim described instances in which Hamrick allegedly touched his genitals under a blanket while his wife and children were in the same room during sleepovers. He said other times Hamrick would move his own sleeping children from a pull-out couch in the playroom at his house to perform sex acts with the child.
The abuse ended when the victim was 11, he said, and his mom found him sitting on Hamrick’s lap on a boat at Pensacola Beach during a family trip and realized Hamrick was touching her son under his shorts.
“(She called my name) in a shriek that I still remember today,” the victim said.
The victim said he could tell she was angry and worried but he didn’t comprehend that the cause of that anger was the result of any action of his or Hamrick’s.
From then, the families stopped seeing each other outside of church. The parents told the victim what Hamrick had allegedly done was wrong, but they decided not to go to the police and instead prayed about it, thinking what happened at the beach was a one-time offense, Ambrose said. The victim testified that after his parents knew about the beach incident, he was scared and embarrassed so didn’t elaborate about what had allegedly happened to him in the years prior.
The victim said he didn’t interact with Hamrick again until about 2013 when he began volunteering with Tate High School. The victim said he took the position because he heard Hamrick was working on the coaching staff. He said he felt uncomfortable knowing Hamrick was around children as the freshman coach, and he thought his presence would remind Hamrick of the abuse and act as a deterrent.