A former Central Florida police chief already facing charges for the sexual battery of a 14-year-old girl is now facing aggravated stalking charges.
William Ray Pruitt, 56, who previously served as the chief of the Center Hill Police Department, was taken into custody in Lake County on Friday and charged with one count of felony aggravated stalking and one count of misdemeanor simple stalking.
Pruitt Allegedly Raped the Teen Victim at Gunpoint in December 2020
Pruitt was arrested in December of 2022 for allegedly sexually battering a then-14-year-old girl while using a deadly weapon in 2020. According to authorities, Pruitt lured the victim into his truck, held a gun to her, and sexually assaulted her.
The victim told investigators that she denied the encounters until the end of 2022 out of fear of Pruitt, who threatened to kill himself and promised to "blow her brains out" if she ever told anyone, police wrote in the arrest report.
Pruitt Allegedly told Victim He Had Cop Friends Who Hacked Her Phone and Helped Him Keep Track of Her
According to a sworn affidavit of probable cause from the Lake County Sheriff's Office obtained by Law&Crime, the alleged stalking began in October 2021, when the victim was 15 years old, and continued into December 2022, when she was 16.
The victim contacted the Lake County Sheriff's Office on Dec. 1, 2022, to report an incident which she said was "part of an ongoing pattern of stalking" from Pruitt.
Investigators spoke with the victim's mother, who explained that she first met Pruitt in March 2020, but said that she later "began to suspect Pruitt was grooming [the victim] and possibly having an inappropriate relationship with her."
The affidavit states Pruitt told the victim he was an ex-cop who had hacked her phone and tracked all her activity for him.
Pruitt Allegedly Hired a Private Investigator to Keep an Eye on Victim, Made References to His and Pruitt's Unborn Child
Due to her suspicions about Pruitt, the victim's mother left her job and moved to an undisclosed location. But soon after, a private investigator showed up, whom she believed was hired by Pruitt. Pruitt also allegedly starting driving by the victim's new residence.
The situation became particularly creepy when Pruitt allegedly began leaving cryptic messages around the neighborhood referencing his and the victim's theoretical unborn child.
"On 5/27/22 a homemade sign appeared zip tied to the stop sign at the intersection of [redacted]. The sign was printed on one side with 'Ray Liberty' and on the other with 'Libby,'" the affidavit states.
"[Redacted] believes it was placed there by Pruitt to stalk and harass [the victim] since 'Libby' is Pruitt's mother's name and Pruitt told [the victim] if he got her pregnant (as a result of the sexual battery) he will name their daughter 'Liberty Ray' (with 'Ray' being his middle name) and call the child 'Libby' after his mother."
Later, one of Pruitt's employees allegedly approached the victim at a high school football game and asked her, "How's Libby?" The victim told investigators she believed the employee was sent by Pruitt to "harass her by asking about their hypothetical child."
Pruitt Allegedly Tried to Ram the Victim Off the Road
Pruitt's alleged conduct escalated further in the months that followed, culminating in an August incident where he allegedly tried to ram the victim off the road.
"On 8/22/22 [the victim] was driving alone from Tavares High School when she noticed Pruitt following her. Pruitt pulled up next to her and yelled at her to pull over," the affidavit states.
"[The victim] drove towards her cousin's apartment at [redacted] (Lake County). During the drive, Pruitt attempted to 'force' her vehicle off the road. Upon arriving at her cousin's apartment, [the victim] ran inside, followed by Pruitt, who stopped outside the building."
The final straw came in December 2022 when the victim pulled into her high school parking lot and found a sign taped to her car that said "Liberty 3" with a heart, again referring to the unborn child. according to investigators.
Pruitt currently remains in Lake County Jail. His bond is set at $11,000. He is scheduled to appear for his arraignment at 8 a.m. on Feb. 2.