POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A Palmetto man was arrested after allegedly extorting a 14-year-old girl for nude videos and engaging in inappropriate online contact.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) said 24-year-old Richard Battle, who is a Polk Co. Fire Rescue firefighter, initially made contact with the girl in 2019 via Snapchat. Upon messaging her, the victim told Battle that she was only 14, to which Battle replied, “Okay.”
The victim asked Battle his age, but he did not answer, according to the PCSO.
Investigators said the conversations turned sexual in nature, and Battle threatened to tell the victim’s mother that she was on Snapchat unless the victim sent him nude videos.
Battle allegedly told the victim that he knew her location and the victim was in fear he would come to her home, therefore the victim sent Battle two videos of herself nude.
Battle then continued to send her Snapchat messages, which the victim ignored. He repeatedly asked her to send more videos, which she ignored until March 2022 when she decided she “couldn’t take it anymore.”
The victim searched for Battle’s true identity online and found Battle on Facebook where he is shown wearing a Polk County Fire Rescue T-shirt. The victim reported the online conversations to an adult, and an investigation ensued.
PCSO Computer Crimes detectives interviewed Battle at the Ewell Road fire station on April 7. Battle claimed he met the victim on Tinder and said he believed she was 18. He denied the threats and denied soliciting her to send videos, but did admit she sent videos to him.
He also denied being on Snapchat at all, according to a release from PSCO.
Battle is currently being held in the Polk Co. Jail for one count of solicitation of a person under 16 to commit a lewd act, one count unlawful use of a two-way communication device, and one count extortion. He is being held on no bond for the solicitation charge, and $6,000 bond total for the other two charges.
Polk County Fire said Battle has been suspended with pay and served with a notice of investigation by the county.