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Molestation case may involve • Monday April 28, 2003

Gainsville Sun, Apr. 24, 2003

Investigators will be speaking to a third girl in connection with a Gainesville man already accused of molesting two girls at the Hare Krishna Student Center in Gainesville earlier this month.

Pedro A. Garcia, 44, is charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation, court records show. He was being held at the Alachua County jail Wednesday on a $50,000 bond.

On April 11, Gainesville Police received a report from the center’s director about an investigation by the Hare Krishna Child Protection Team into the alleged April 4 incident, Gainesville Police Sgt. Keith Kameg said.

Garcia is accused of fondling two girls who were attending a service with a parent at the center at 214 NW 14th St., court records show. The two told police Garcia said he was going to give them money. One also said she saw Garcia touching another girl.

Police interviewed Garcia, Kameg said. “He said that he did touch the girls and some of the touches were inappropriate, but he only touched their shoulders,” he said.

An arrest report describing the case said Garcia could not explain to police why a touch on the shoulder would be “inappropriate.”

A large Hare Krishna community is located in the city of Alachua, and is where the group’s child protection team is located.

Garcia is listed in court records as an employee of a local lawn service company.

Scott McGregor, the Krishna center’s director, said Garcia sometimes attends services.

“He did have a time in his life when he was more involved,” McGregor said.

Garcia also had previously lived at the center, McGregor said, but has not been a resident for the past several years.

McGregor, whose spiritual name is Savyasaci das, credited the child protection team, saying they have offered counseling to the girls involved in case and initiated the investigation that led to the police case.

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