(As originally published with bells and whistles, Sat, April 23rd 2022, 5:24 PM EDT)
TAMPA, Fla. (CBS12) — A man who was supposed to be helping people who are struggling with thoughts of depression or suicide is charged with victimizing one instead.
Christopher Augusto Laracuente Cotto used to work for the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said on the morning of March 28, a teen girl called the hotline. She left her information and was told that someone would call her back.
A short time later, she got a call from a recorded line by a man “who identified himself as an employee of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay,” according to the sheriff’s office.
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They spoke for more than an hour.
Then, less than an hour later, she got a call from a restricted number and recognized the voice as the same counselor she had spoken with earlier.
Deputies said the man identified himself as “William” and called the victim’s cellphone from the restricted number multiple times claiming to check on her.
Then, on the same day, it went to cyberspace.
“The suspect requested the victim’s Instagram username, which she provided, and he followed her on the social media platform. After continuing to communicate that day via Instagram direct messages and phone calls, the suspect sent the juvenile victim explicit photographs and videos, in addition to requesting nude photographs of her, which she did not provide.”
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The following day, March 29, the victim reported the incident to a sheriff’s office school resource deputy at her school.
Deputies investigated and figured out a call taker who worked at the crisis center for two months was their man.
They said Laracuente Cotto, 32, confessed and his cellphone confirmed what the victim had said.
Laracuente Cotto was arrested on Thursday and charged with transmission of harmful material to a minor and unlawful use of a two-way communications device.
Now, detectives are asking anyone who feels they may be a victim or has information on this case to call them at 813-247-8200, or CrimeStoppers of Tampa Bay anonymously at 800-873-TIPS (8477).