An employee with the Florida Department of Children and Families has been arrested and charged with molesting two 5-year-old girls.
North Port Police arrested 44-year-old Peter Crane . He is charged with sexual assault and two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior.
Crane has been a child protective investigator with the Florida Department of Children and Families for five years.
The victims are two 5-year-old girls; Crane is said to be a friend of the family.
Investigators say last week, the victims' mother was giving the girls a bath when they told her about the alleged sexual misconduct. She immediately took them to the hospital, where staff there in turn called police.
Crane was arrested a short time later.
"Our detectives did their job, they did it well, and I'll sleep better knowing that those kids are safe now," said North Port Police Chief Kevin Vespia.
According to investigators, one of the victims said the misconduct happened at Crane's home while the girls played games on his Galaxy Tablet.
DCF released a statement that read in part: "These allegations, if true, betray the trust and confidence that all Floridians have in our Department's employees."
The statement went on to say: "We have removed Mr. Crane from all work duties during the investigation and will pursue the appropriate personnel actions."
People we spoke with who know Crane say it's hard to believe he could be responsible for such a heinous act. Others say this just serves as a reminder that you can never take anything for granted these days.
"You just can't watch your children closely enough. It's just scary. The world is getting worse," said neighbor Anna Jean Patrick.
DCF says Crane, like all their employees, went through a strict background check. and that showed no previous arrests.
They say they also checked their records to ensure he had never been the subject of a child abuse investigation.
Here is the full statement from the Department of Children and Families:
"These allegations, if true, betray the trust and confidence that all Floridians have in our Department's employees. The alleged actions in no way reflect the diligent professionalism of the hundreds of dedicated investigators who work each day to protect this state's most vulnerable children.
We are working closely with law enforcement and will continue to do so during the course of the criminal investigation. Whatever the result of the investigation, the lives of families and children have been deeply affected and our thoughts and prayers are with them.
"We have removed Mr. Crane from all work duties during the investigation and will pursue the appropriate personnel actions. While our preliminary review has shown Mr. Crane successfully passed a criminal background check prior to his employment and no previous disciplinary actions or investigations related to his work with the Department, we are reviewing his cases to ensure the safety and well-being of children and families involved."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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