Police: Armed man catfishes teen boys online, sexually assaults one

Posted at 2:38 PM, Jul 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 06:56:27-04

Police say they have arrested a man who reportedly "catfished" two teenage boys on separate occasions and sexually assaulted one of them.

St. Petersburg police detectives arrested 25-year-old D'Andre Banks and charged him with two counts of kidnapping and one count of sexual battery with a deadly weapon in separate cases.

On June 29, 2017, Banks reportedly posed as a teenage girl on Facebook and lured a 17-year-old boy to a house near MLK Street South and Paris Avenue South where he was armed with a handgun and threatened the boy before sexually assaulting him. 

A family member told ABC Action News that Banks is not capable of such violent behavior, calling the accused a "God-fearing man." 

"He's always been good. I'm lost for words," the family said.

The second incident happened on July 17, 2017. Banks reportedly posed as a teen girl on Facebook and lured a 15-year-old boy to a vacant house at 1830 20th Street South. A police report states that Banks forced the teen into a closet, ordering him to take off his clothes. The boy was able to escape unharmed. 

Neighbors tell ABC Action News, they have complained to the city about how the vacant house has attracted crime.

"Secure the whole property, so that way you make it safe," said Pete Phillips, a concerned neighbor who lives across the street.

The homeowner, Frank Wells, did not want to go on camera, but says he is renovating the property. Wells plans to donate the property to Venture House, a non-profit that provides affordable housing to local entrepreneurs. 

St. Petersburg Police believe there may be more victims. If anyone has additional information, please call the non-emergency number at 727-893-7780 or text SPPD + your tip to TIP411.