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A Palatka man was arrested and charged with four counts of capital felony sexual battery on a child under 12, two counts first-degree felony of sexual battery by custodian on a victim under 12 and on life felony for tampering with a victim/witness in a capital felony proceeding in a 2021 investigation.

The investigation began after a tip to the Florida Abuse Hotline. The tip derived from an email the victim sent through a school account to other students. The email triggered a flag due to profanity in the email. A school administrator reviewing the email found reason to believe the victim was sexually assaulted and contacted the abuse hotline. At the time the victim was still enrolled as a full-time virtual student as part of COVID precautions.

DCF began and investigation and contacted the sheriff's office. During the investigation the victim disclosed Hudson began the sexual abuse in 2017. The victim was about 11 at the time. The victim said the sexual abuse increased during COVID when schools were no longer open. Upon disclosure to investigators, an injunction was filed to prevent contact between the victim and Hudson.

On May 12, 2021 a search warrant was conducted at the suspect's 127 Mellon Road residence and several items were collected for DNA processing. The items were sent to an FDLE crime lab and the results returned on July 1, 2022. Detectives finished their investigation and submitted charges to the State Attorney's office. A warrant was signed for Hudson's arrest last week and he was arrested today. Hudson was taken to the Putnam County Jail and is being held without bond.

"While this case occurred before the proposed state death penalty option for child molesters, it definitely presents a case to support this type of punishment for these monsters," Sheriff H.D. 'Gator' DeLoach said. This child was subjected to rape and sexual abuse almost daily during COVID. The victim was robbed of childhood innocence and terrorized. As a father, I have a special place in my heart for children and this tears at my heartstrings. Children should not be afraid of someone entrusted to care for them."

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