Women attempted to prevent prosecution of accused child rapist, police say

'We won't stand for that,' OPD says of victimization of children

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

Orlando police have arrested two women who they say tried to hinder an investigation into a young girl being sexually battered.

Antonio Thomas was arrested Aug. 22 and charged with sexual battery on a child under 12, molestation, child abuse and other charges, according to officials with the Orlando Police Department.

The 11-year-old victim called police Aug. 21 to report she was being sexually abused by Thomas over a period of time, according to a police report.

When police responded, they said they saw Thomas run out of the neighborhood, get into a yellow cab and flee. Officers said they were able to stop the cab and make an arrest.

During the arrest, Thomas told police he was a sovereign citizen and that they would have to kill him, because "he was not going to jail" and police "had no legal authority to hold him," according to the arrest report.

Sovereign citizens are part of an anti-government movement following the belief they don’t have to pay taxes and get to decide which laws they will obey, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Since the 2000s, people who claim they are sovereign citizens “are clogging up the courts with indecipherable filings and when cornered, many of them lash out in rage, frustration and, in the most extreme cases, acts of deadly violence, usually directed against government officials,” according to the SPLC.

After Thomas was arrested, detectives tried to speak with Nichelle Taylor, 31, and Natasha Douglas several times, police said.

Taylor, a relative of the victim, did not show up for several interviews, police said.

Orlando police Special Victim’s Unit detectives said the women were attempting to prevent Thomas's prosecution. Both women were arrested Tuesday, records show.

“OPD will put you in jail if you tamper with victims, and especially with child victims in sexual battery cases,” Orlando police Public Information Officer Michelle Guido said. “This child has now been victimized by several people in her life, and we won't stand for that.”

Guido said that while many details of the case cannot be made public because of the young victim and the nature of the crimes, it was important that people know that preventing detectives from conducting an investigation will lead to arrest.

Police said Wednesday that there could be other people who attempted to cover up the alleged crime.

"We're gonna take this seriously," said Sgt. Tami Edwards with the Orlando Police Special Victims Unit. "If we find out there's been tampering whatsoever, my team and I will come after you."

Police also called Thomas a "predator" and said it's possible there are more victims.
 
"There are a lot of children he has had access to, but without victims coming forward, we really can't start looking into each case, because it looks like malicious prosecution," Edwards said. 

Douglas is charged with felony crimes related to tampering with a witness. Taylor is charged with accessory after the fact, harassing a witness and failure to report child abuse.

Check back for more on this developing story.

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