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Orange sheriff: Teen's abduction case in state attorney's hands

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, addressing public concerns about the recent arrest of a 14-year-old boy accused of trying to kidnap a toddler at a Burlington Coat Factory, said Monday the disposition of the case rests with the State Attorney and not his agency.

The teen faces a possible felony false-imprisonment charge stemming from the June 10 incident.

He told Orange County investigators he thought the girl was lost inside the retail store on West Colonial Drive and was trying to help the toddler find her mother.

The Orlando Sentinel is not naming the teen, who is on court-ordered home detention, because he is a minor.

Demings said the criminal case remains under investigation and he was limited to what he could say.

Demings explained during a press conference that a judge found there was probable cause to arrest the teen, and said that probable cause requires more than simple suspicion.

The State Attorney's Office will decide what formal charge, if any, will be brought against the teen.

"That's the system," Demings said. "We are obliged to work within the system."

A State Attorney's Office spokeswoman said Monday the case remains under review.

When asked if his deputies made a mistake in arresting the teen, Demings responded by saying that a judge found there was probable cause.

Deputies responded to the Burlington Coat Factory when the girl's mother reported to store employees that someone tried to kidnap the child.

Store surveillance cameras showed the teen approaching the girl and walking out of the store with her trailing him. The footage shows the girl's mother running outside and then walking into the store with the girl. The teen and his mother follow.

The teen told deputies he thought the girl was lost and told her he was going to help her find her mother. He said he had walked outside the store because he thought one of three women he saw outside might have been the girl's mother. Deputies said the teen told them he walked back toward the store when the women did not respond to the presence of the child.

The girl's mother noticed the child was missing while standing near the cash register, the woman told deputies. After being informed that the girl had walked outside with the boy, the woman ran outside and brought the girl back.

Demings would not directly answer several questions regarding the incident at the press conference.

He said the facts about the case will be released in the near future.

"What we're after here is that justice will be done," he said.

Sentinel staff writer Anthony Colarossi contributed to this report. Bianca Prieto can be reached at Amy L. Edwards can be reached at or 407-420-5735.

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