Former Florida Department of Law Enforcement supervisor Charles McMullen is guilty of nine child sex offenses surrounding his time as a foster parent and child sex crime investigator.
A Santa Rosa County jury heard six days worth of testimony and evidence beginning with jury selection Monday and returned with a guilty verdict late Saturday.
McMullen himself testified Friday night and into Saturday, according to prosecutor Anne Patterson, as the defense wrapped up its case.
The four victims were aged between 8 and 10, two of them foster children in McMullen’s home and two his biological son’s friends.
Authorities were alerted to the abuse when one of the foster children spontaneously announced McMullen, known to him as “Mr. Chuck,” often touched his genitals. His foster mom and biological mom had been in an argument in the presence of a child caseworker about a surgery the boy needed. When the discussion got heated, the boy answered that nobody touches his genitals, except Mr. Chuck.
The Florida Department of Children and Families worker immediately contacted her supervisor and they began interviewing the other children in the home.
The McMullen home was busy, the jury heard, as the couple had biological children, foster children and had adopted some children after fostering them, at one point equating to seven children at the house.
One of the other foster children said he had been raped by McMullen. He was taken for a medical exam where it was found he had injuries consistent with rape, Patterson had said in her opening statement.
McMullen was arrested in November 2016, and soon after two more boys – the biological son’s friends – came forward saying they also had been abused when the McMullen family lived at a different address in their neighborhood. The boys, all living in the same area, would congregate at the McMullen house which is when the abuse would happen.
Patterson had argued that there was no benefit to the four boys testifying against McMullen, and they didn’t know each other well or have a chance to corroborate their stories though they told similar accounts of having been touched.
McMullen’s defense attorneys, Jim Jenkins and Ryan Cardoso, had said the circumstances surrounding the children’s recollections were true – they had been on the couch together under a blanket for “cuddle time”, and the foster children had been in McMullen’s bedroom to give him what they called massages – but they said the accusation of molestation was not true.
Jenkins said Sunday that McMullen strongly maintains his innocence and will be filing an appeal at the appropriate time.
“Mr. McMullen, having been a highly respected law enforcement officer for more than 25 years, respects and understands the judicial process,” Jenkins said. “He sincerely appreciates how attentive all the jury members were during what were six consecutive, exceptionally long days of trial. His family, friends and fellow churchgoers, many of whom were in court in support of Mr. McMullen throughout the entire trial, were shocked and deeply saddened by the verdict.”
It took the jury about three-and-a-half hours to return with the verdict Saturday night. McMullen was found guilty of one count of sexual battery of a child under 12, seven counts of lewd or lascivious molestation, and one count of promoting sexual performance of a child.