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Citrus businessman guilty of sex assault attempt

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Posted at 10:58 AM, Mar 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-11 11:02:30-05
A Citrus County business man who formerly ran for county commission has been found guilty of attempted sexual battery of a physically helpless person.
 
Shannon Dain Heathcock, 46, remains out on bond awaiting sentencing.
 
PREVIOUSLY REPORTED:  VICTIM SPEAKS EXCLUSIVELY TO ABC ACTION NEWS
 
Christina Inness, her 15-year-old daughter and their dog Holly are now living in a friend's garage.
 
The 33-year-old says she lost her home and had to leave her job because of her former boss, Shannon Heathcock.
 
Deputies say on March 6 Heathcock, 45, tried to sexually assault Inness while she was passed out in a car.
 
Inness came forward to deputies March 7 and stated that the night before she went with her girlfriends to a local bar to have drinks after work.
 
Heathcock, according to an arrest affidavit, showed up and began buying the women shots.
 
"Took a few minutes for us to take the shots. When we did it, they did not taste right," Inness recalled.
 
The victim's friends told detectives she became intoxicated and began vomiting. That is when her friends walked her out to the parking lot and put her in the passenger seat of their car, where she passed out, deputies said.
 
Deputies said the women's friends went back into the bar to pay the bill.
 
An arrest affidavit states when the woman's friends came back to the car, they found their friend passed out without any clothes on and Heathcock on top of her not wearing any pants.
 
"I just couldn't believe it. He's not not someone I expected to do anything. He was my boss," she said.

According to Inness's friends, she was in the car for 15 to 20 minutes.

INNESS REFUSES TO RETURN TO WORK

At the time, Heathcock owned and operated Dash Transport Inc ., an Inverness-based company that offers non-emergency medical transport throughout central Florida.

The company's slogan is: "God is our C.E.O."

Since his arrest, Heathcock stepped down as owner and transferred the business into his wife's name, state records show. Inness worked in the billing department.

"I cannot go back to work knowing he's done this to me," she said.

Inness told ABC Action News she could not face her boss and did not return to work despite Heathcock calling and emailing her to return.

As a result, she was no longer able to pay her rent and was evicted.

"Not only have I been victimized by him, but by what comes after. It's a snowball effect," she said.

Inness was denied unemployment.

She also applied for victim's compensation through the State of Florida.   While they approved paying for her counseling, they denied funds for lost wages and relocation.

Whitney Ray, media relations specialist with the Attorney General's Office told ABC Action News their office is bound by laws.

"Our office is bound by state law when administering victim's compensation payments," Ray wrote in an email.   "Florida State Statutes determine the distribution of all victim's compensation. The state legislature determines which crimes are compensable, and therefore eligible for victims compensation."

According to Inness, she was denied the other funds because she did not qualify as 'physically injured.'

"I would have been better off if he beat me," she added.

Inness says she's tried applying to other jobs in the area and has had no luck.  She added with the amount of counseling she is going through and the time needed to appear in court, most employers are not interested in hiring her.

Citrus County deputies confirm DNA collect during a routine rape examination kit and blood drawn from Inness are being analyzed at FDLE labs.  They are waiting on the results.

HEATHCOCK DECLINES COMMENT

ABC Action News reached Heathcock by phone but he declined to comment.

His attorney, Bill Grant, said his client is innocent until proven guilty.

"He has no criminal record," said Grant.

Grant added Heathcock is a well-respected businessman.

According to deputies, Heathcock admitted in a recorded phone call he "must have" tried having sex with Inness if both their pants were down.

Grant told ABC Action News he looks forward to analyzing all the State's evidence and calls the recorded call nothing more than his client reacting to assertions.

Heathcock is currently out on $10,000 bond.

A judge has awarded Inness a temporary restraining order against Heathcock.