A Jacksonville woman was arrested this week and charged with Duval County child neglect and witness tampering for allegedly trying to cover up the fact her husband molested two young girls years ago. Her husband, Louis Vereen, was arrested in Jacksonville last month for lewd and lascivious molestation on a child under the age of 12, accused of molesting two girls when they were about 6 and 9 years old, according to a report on First Coast News.
The girls are now 13 and 16 and the molestation lasted for about two years, the television station reported. Tara Vereen found out about the molestation in 2011 when she stumbled across a letter that one of the girls wrote, saying Louis Vereen molested her. She allegedly confronted her husband, handled it between the two of them and did not report it to police, according to the news report. Police learned about the molestation when the older victim talked about it following attempting suicide, the television station reported. Once police investigated, they found Tara Vereen forced the girls to write letters saying their accusations against her husband were false. That is where the Jacksonville witness tampering charges come into play.
The penalties for witness tampering vary based on the crime at the root of the tampering. It is at the very minimum a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. However, those penalties increase based on the original crime and end up being one felony degree more severe than the original crime. So witness tampering on a misdemeanor case is a third-degree felony, witness tampering on a third-degree felony is a second-degree felony, and so on. So a tampering charge could expose someone to 15 years in prison on a second-degree felony when the person actually committing the third-degree felony is only looking at a maximum of five years.
Louis Vereen is charged with a life felony for molesting children under the age of 12 in this Jacksonville Sex Crimes case. That means Tara Vereen's charges are also punishable by up to life in prison. Witness tampering is treated very seriously in the state of Florida, at least when it comes to the statutes. In this case, Tara Vereen is accused of trying to get the two alleged victims to lie about what happened and clear her husband of any wrongdoing. Prosecutors will not look too kindly on that in this Jacksonville Sex case, especially because the victims she was trying to persuade were 12 and 15 at the time.
The Vereen case is the latest in what is becoming a trend in Jacksonville Sex Crimes cases where people on the periphery of the investigation are being arrested for either turning a blind eye to molestation or, in the case of Tara Vereen, allegedly being complicit in the actual cover-up of the crime.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.