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Man charged with sexually assaulting child in his care

By Staff | May 23, 2017

A former Cape Coral resident accused of sexually assaulting a child in his care for over eight years remained in custody on Tuesday.

Anthony Bernard Reading, 47, of 205 Lynn Circle, Pass Christian, Mississippi, is being held at the Lee County Jail on $300,000 bond. According to jail records, he was arrested and charged on Friday with three counts of sexual assault by custodian sexual battery victim 12 years of age under 18 years of age.

Reading has an arraignment scheduled for June 19.

According to a Cape police report, the 18-year-old victim reported that Reading first battered her in New Hampshire when she was 10 years old. The incident occurred after her mother had gone to work. She could not remember the specifics about the assault, but she recalled crying in her bedroom after.

Police noted that because Reading had sexually battered the victim “frequently” over the eight-year period, she was not able to remember and convey specific details pertaining to each victimization.

The victim said she was 15 and in the Cape when he first had sexual intercourse with her.

According to the report, she described an instance of severe punishment by Reading in which he accused her of damaging a vehicle. He “punished her” as she apologized and tried to explain she did not damage the vehicle. He “stopped his assault” after deciding he would talk to another about it.

Police noted that the victim’s level of misbehaving in Reading’s opinion dictated the severity of sexual abuse she would have to endure. When he moved to Mississippi, he set rules in place for her. Deviation from them would mean that she would become his “toy” for any length of time he deemed appropriate.

At the time of her police interview, the victim had already acquired one month’s punishment.

She also told police that Reading had used his cell phone to take nude pictures of her.

On May 15, the victim placed a controlled phone call to Reading on his cell phone. According to the report, he made it very clear during the 42-minute call that he was disappointed in just about all aspects of her life and “primary lack of communication,” which extended her punishment up to three months.

On Friday, an interview was conducted with Reading at the police department.

He reportedly confirmed that the victim’s statement was true.

Reading was taken into custody and transported to the jail for booking.

Police officials could not confirm if the investigation was ongoing on Tuesday.

“I’ve tried to reach the detective on this case and have not yet heard back from him,” Cpl. Philip Mullen, a spokesman for the Cape Coral Police Department, said.

The victim noted to police that four younger children remained in Reading’s care.

As of press time, it was unknown if additional charges could be pending.

However, a sergeant with the Pass Christian Police Department, in Harrison County, Mississippi, confirmed on Tuesday that he had spoken to a Cape detective earlier. He said he pointed the detective to the Harrison County Department of Child Protection Services and local Child Advocacy Center.

Lea Anne Brandon, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, confirmed on Tuesday that the department handles any child abuse concerns and allegations.

“However, Mississippi law prohibits us from making any comment regarding a case or investigation – including confirming whether a case has been opened or a complaint filed with us,” she said. “The law was established to protect the privacy of families and children receiving services from our agency.”

Brandon explained that when a complaint is received, the complaint is referred to the appropriate MDCPS county office where the incident allegedly occurred or where the principles reside.

Officials at the Canopy Children’s Solutions Child Advocacy Center in Gulfport could not comment on whether a case had been opened on Reading. They did state that the agency conducts child interviews.

Locally, it did not appear a child protection case had been opened as of Tuesday.

“At this point, we are not involved,” Natalie Harrell, the communications director for the SunCoast Region of the Florida Department of Children and Families, said.

She added that the agency where the individuals currently reside would have jurisdiction.