Crystal River man sentenced to life in underage molestation trial

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Mark Daniel of Crystal River (CCSO mug shot)

A Crystal River man was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday in the case of the 2019 Lewd and Lascivious Molestation of a Child under the Age of 12.

During the initial investigation into the claims against  Mark Daniel, 44, the victim disclosed to a parent that Daniel had made the victim touch him in a sexual manner.

Former Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Detective Bruce Arnold, now a Special Agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, was assigned to the case.  After a thorough investigation, which included a forensic victim interview with the Child Protection Team, Arnold developed probable cause for Daniel’s arrest.

Earlier this year, on Feb. 21, at Daniel’s jury trial, he was found guilty of the allegations against him. During his sentencing hearing Wednesday, the victim’s father spoke in Judge Howard’s courtroom about the impact these events have had on his family. After hearing from the prosecution, defense, and victim’s father, Judge Howard sentenced Daniel to life in prison on each of his six charges.

“Daniel is a predator who took advantage of the trust placed in him to care for and watch over this young victim.  His actions have changed the victim’s life forever,” said Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast.

“The diligence shown every day by detectives assigned to the Special Victims Unit is a testament to our commitment to protect young and vulnerable victims. Nothing can undo what this victim has gone through; however, we are hopeful the victim and their family find peace in the fact that Daniel will never be able to prey on another child.”