Family faces teen police say molested their son

Posted at 6:53 PM, Feb 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-26 18:53:19-05

A family has finally faced the teenager police said molested their 11-year-old son after luring him out of school.

Friday afternoon was the first appearance for Zachary Marksberry, 17, who is charged with kidnapping and sexual battery.

The 11-year-old's mother said Marksberry sexually assaulted her son after convincing him to leave the same school suspension class by passing him a note, promising a McDonald's lunch. ABC Action News is not identifying the woman in order to protect her son's identity.

The two boys attend Pinellas Secondary School, an alternative school which serves students from sixth to 12th grade. 

The victim's mother said Marksberry took her son behind some abandoned buildings and eventually tried sexually assaulting him in a wooded area. 
"Bear-hugged him from behind and attempted to sexually assault him." the mother said.

She said her son was able to fake an asthma attack during the assault and was able to convince the teenager to let him call his mother in a nearby office building. Pinellas Park police were called and school resource officers, who had been looking for the two, soon arrived on scene. Police arrested Marksberry.

In court Friday, the family of the latest alleged victim sat watching Marksberry face a judge. 

"It was very scary to think that was the monster that was with my son," the 11-year-old's mother said.

She said knowing Marksberry is being charged as an adult has brought her some piece of mind, but also, uneasiness.

"I immediately started sobbing," she said. "Tears of relief, pain and worry of what's to come."

A judge set Marksberry's bond at $200,000 and said if he did bond out, he would not be allowed to have any contact with children under the age of 18. The judge also said Marksberry would not be allowed in school.

Marksberry told the judge he would not be able to go home because he lives in a group home with several children. The judge told Marksberry to discuss this with his court-appointed attorneys.

The fact that Marksberry has been living with other children was greatly troubling to the 11-year-old's mother.

"That was shocking," she said. "That was very surprising to learn that he was living with younger children in a group home, being exposed to that. It just makes you wonder if other things have happened that we don't know about." 

Now, she hopes he stays locked up.

"So that another kid doesn't have to go through that and another family doesn't have to go through this," the woman said.

Marksberry has a known history of sexual violence. In 2013, a mother told investigators Marksberry forced himself on her 8-year-old son at Calvin Hunsinger Elementary in Clearwater.
The juvenile justice system then placed the then 14-year-old Marksberry in a group home in Hillsborough County, where a second assault allegedly occurred. 


Hillsborough County deputies arrested him in August 2013 and charged him with lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim under the age of 18. 

According to the Pinellas County mother who said her 8-year-old son was attacked in 2013, Marksberry was sentenced to an out-of-state program, which required 18 months of intensive therapy. 

If convicted on these latest charges, Marksberry faces up to 60 years in prison.