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Sex offender accused of kidnapping, raping teen in Sanford

Samuel L. Hardy Jr. served six years in prison for having sex with minors

The Sanford Police Department arrested a man Tuesday who authorities said kidnapped a 15-year-old teen from a Sanford Walmart parking lot and raped her.

Police said Samuel Lee Hardy Jr., who is a registered sex offender for raping a 16-year-old in 2010, ordered the victim who was walking in the Walmart parking lot into his car by knifepoint on Feb. 8. Hardy then drove the teen to Washington Oaks where he raped her, police said.

Hardy drove the victim back to the Walmart store and told her not to tell anyone about what took place, police said.

The sexual battery kit tested positive for Hardy’s DNA. Hardy has been charged with one count of kidnapping, one count of forced sexual battery with a weapon on a victim 12 years or older and two counts of violation of probation.

Hardy was released on sexual offender status from the Florida Department of Corrections in February 2016 after serving six years. He was convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl at knifepoint in 2010 in Volusia County.

In that case, court records show that the victim told police Hardy was holding a knife and telling her not resist or struggle as he raped her.

"Obviously there's a pattern in his behavior,” Sanford police public information officer Bianca Gillett said.

"It concerns us there are possible other instances that occurred in the year that he was released," Gillett said. 

Police are urging anyone who may have had similar interaction with Hardy to contact them or Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477.

Despite his previous conviction and a new accuser, Hardy's finance went to his first appearance today to defend him.

"I'm not saying that he didn't engage in anything sexual, but I don't think it was with a knife or force or kidnapping or any of that," Lashavia Hill said. 

Hardy remains in the Seminole County Jail.