by Naja Girard
A Key West Man is being charged with sexual battery on a teen girl who was reported missing from Santa Rosa County.
The Key West Police Department was alerted by the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office, on Wednesday (September 26th), that a missing teenage girl was on her way to Key West on a Greyhound bus.
According to reports, an officer was dispatched to the Greyhound Bus Station at 8:02 pm. Reports do not indicate at what time the officer arrived at the Greyhound station but do state that the officer was not immediately able to locate the missing girl.
The officer reports that at 9:30 pm he telephoned the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office and was told that the Greyhound ticket had been purchased by a Key West man whose address was at the Senior Center on Kennedy Drive.
According to reports, when the officer arrived at his home, the man stated that he did not know the teen but consented to a search.
After the officer searched the apartment and did not find the 17-year-old girl, he headed over to to the Greyhound station to watch security footage with Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies.
The footage showed the girl getting off the bus at 8:30 pm and leaving in a silver Honda heading westbound on South Roosevelt Blvd.
Police were alerted to a possible address in New Town associated with the vehicle, but the vehicle wasn’t there.
Police were informed that the girl had been in contact with a Key West man named William Melnick, 40, who lives on Truman Avenue.
Multiple officers went to the house on Truman and knocked on the front door and called out several times. They could hear a male voice inside but no one came to the door.
Officers were able push open an unlocked window and see the shape of two people laying in a bed. Officers requested that they come out, several times asking them to open the front door and eventually threatening to break through the front door if they didn’t comply.
According to reports, the missing teen got up and came to the front door, nude but wrapped in a blanket.
Melnick was naked from the waist down and began to kick the officers, punching one officer in the chest and stomach, as they tried to place him under arrest.
One officer used the dry-stun mode of his taser to gain control of Melnick who was then hand-cuffed.
Officers found a pair of shorts and dressed Melnick before escorting him to a patrol car.
The teen told officers that she had placed an ad on the Craigslist Ride Share website and Melnick had responded. She said they’d been communicating for two months. She also stated that he was aware that she was in high school. She told officers it was Melnick that had purchased her bus ticket to Key West.
According to reports, the teen also told officers that she had taken an Uber from the Greyhound Station to see Melnick and that they had sexual intercourse a few hours later.
When questioned by police, Melnick immediately requested to speak to an attorney.
Melnick is charged with resisting arrest with violence, and sexual battery on a juvenile under 18 but over 12 without their consent and without physical force or violence, under Florida statute 794.011.(5a).
Florida also has a statutory rape statute under 794.05. The legal age of consent for sexual activity in Florida is 18. Close in age exemptions exist, allowing minors aged 16 or 17 to engage in sexual intercourse with a partner no older than age 23.
Note: The information in this crime report is provided by local law enforcement. Please remember that all suspects are innocent until proven guilty.
Arnaud Girard and Amber Nolan contributed to this report.