NICEVILLE, Fla. – A Florida woman is accused of sexually abusing a 5-year-old girl three years ago, authorities said.
Katrina Puri, 50, of Niceville, was arrested Tuesday and charged with lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim less than 12, and lewd and lascivious exhibition on a victim less than 16, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
Puri is accused of abusing the child over a seven-month period in 2018, WEAR-TV reported.
A caregiver reported noticing redness on the child during bath time, as well as observing the child exhibiting sexual behaviors, the Northwest Florida Daily News reported.
“The victim told the caretaker, and subsequently investigators, that Puri touched her inappropriately on a number of occasions,” the sheriff’s office stated in a release. “Sometimes when she was clothed and sometimes when she was not.”
Puri has denied that any sexual abuse occurred, according to the Daily News.
Puri has worked with at-risk children in the county, including hosting holiday events for foster children, the newspaper reported.
Puri was a weekly volunteer for Children In Crisis from 2011 to 2015, according to The Destin Log. She was recognized by the organization as an exceptional volunteer and won the Golden Deeds Award from the Emerald Coast National Exchange Club for her efforts there, the newspaper reported. She has also served as a guardian ad litem.
“I have a passion for fostering and mentoring kids who are in abusive situations with no one to help or listen to them,” Puri said in a statement after joining the board, according to the Log. “My vision is to give children a glimmer of hope. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work with the ECCAC Board.”
Representatives of ECCAC could not be immediately reached for comment about Puri’s arrest, the Daily News reported.
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