Palm Coast Utilities worker charged in sex trafficking investigation

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. — A Palm Coast Utilities employee has been accused of filming himself having sex with girls as young as 13-years-old.


Flagler County investigators say some of the victims lived at a group home in Palm Coast.

READ: Volusia County reports first confirmed case of monkeypox

According to the Sheriff’s Office, 32-year-old Peter James Strickland offered the girls gifts in exchange for sexual favors.

The investigation began on July 6 when the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint about possible sex crimes involving girls at the group home.

Palm Coast officials say Strickland had been working for the city since January.

When they interviewed Strickland at his job, deputies say Strickland admitted to having sex 15 times in the last two years with the victims who ranged in age from 13 to 17 years old.

The sheriff’s office has not said exactly how Strickland came to know the victims.

READ: 18-year-old accidentally shoots, kills 17-year-old friend inside Casselberry home, police say

“Anyone who takes away  a child’s innocence deserves to be behind bars forever,” Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staley said in a statement. “I hope this arrest will allow some closure to the victims and they are able to get the help they need.

Strickland was arrested and charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor, a second-degree felony.

He’s being held in the Flagler County jail on $100,000 bond.

The City of Palm Coast says Strickland has been placed on unpaid leave pending the outcome of his case.

It says he passed a background check and had no prior issues in his personnel file.

READ: Central Florida school districts focus on safety as families prepare for back to school

“I am glad the Sheriff’s Office was able to stop him,” Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that he was a utility worker, but to our knowledge, he did not do any of this disgusting behavior while working.”

The investigation into Strickland is ongoing. The Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone who thinks they may be a victim or know someone who was to call them at 386-313-4911.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.