By BILL KACZOR
TALLAHASSEE - A second Florida man in as many months received a pardon Thursday from Gov. Charlie Crist (Contact) after being convicted of having consensual sex with an underage girl who's now his wife.
_____, 33, also needed approval from at least two state Cabinet members meeting with Crist as the Board of Executive Clemency. He got it from all three.
_____ held his 5-month-old son and had his wife of eight years, _____, 26, at his side when he appeared before the panel. Both at times fought back tears.
"I still have to register," _____ told the board before the pardon was granted. "It's still hanging over my head."
The pardon means the father of three will no longer be labeled as a sex offender with his name, address and other personal information posted on a state Web site.
The panel also granted a pardon in late July to _____ of Panama City Beach in a similar "Romeo and Juliet" case.
_____ was 21 and his future wife 15 when they first had sex. Her mother reported _____, then nearing the end of his Army enlistment, although she had encouraged them to date, the couple said.
"I thought it was crazy," _____ said. "I refused to cooperate, and then I got in trouble at home, so I was forced to cooperate with the police even though I didn't want to."
_____ was convicted in Volusia County of committing a lewd and lascivious act against a minor and sentenced to a year in jail concurrent with five years on probation.
The pardon also will let _____, who is a construction company foreman, work on projects near schools, where he previously was barred, and the couple hope it will prevent further harassment from police and news media.
_____ was at home with their oldest child, then 3, when Volusia County sheriff's deputies knocked on the door of their home about four years ago when they lived in Deltona. She said at least six deputies and a television camera crew were there.
"There was a cop on each side of the door and then they were looking in the car windows and they were looking around the house," _____ said in an interview.
One deputy asked for her husband and she told him he was at work. That angered him and he said he'd be back, _____ said. She closed the door but moments later the deputy knocked again.
"He's like 'Well who are you some girlfriend?'" _____ said. "'No, I'm his wife.' He goes 'No, I need to see your ID.' So then I had to go find my purse to get my ID and he looks at it and just throws it back at me."
She said deputies never told her why they were there but it was around the time 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford was kidnapped and killed in Citrus County.
The visit by deputies was shown on a local television station as part of a story on sexual predators and dangerous sex offenders, _____ said.
That prompted the couple to move to a 10-acre homestead in Lake County.
"We haven't had a problem there, yet," _____ told the board.
_____, now 34, was 19 when he first had sex with his wife, _____, who was 14 at the time. She turned him in after finding out he was having relations with another women, an adult. They later reconciled, married 10 years ago and have two children together. He also had two children with the other woman.
_____ in June told the board he didn't want his children to share his stigma and that he kept losing jobs because he was a registered sex offender.
"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)