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A Coral Shores High School student in the Florida Keys is facing 15 years in prison and life as a registered sex offender for continuing to date his 15-year-old girlfriend after he turned 18 in December, according to a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office arrest report.
Draven Tucker’s birthday is Dec. 8. The girl’s father learned about his daughter’s relationship with him earlier that month, according to a sheriff’s office probable cause affidavit. Between Dec. 7, when Tucker was still 17, and Jan. 25, numerous people, including the girl’s parents, his parents and two sheriff’s office deputies, told Tucker to stop dating the girl, according to the affidavit.
It’s not clear how the deputies became involved in the situation before a complaint was filed. The sheriff’s office declined to comment on the case.
The two continued to see each other. The girl told her mother on Jan. 29 that she and Tucker had consensual sex three times over winter break, between Dec. 22 and Jan. 7. She told a detective that she left her house each time to meet Tucker in his truck.
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The girl’s mother reported the couple’s relationship to the Coral Shores school resources deputy four days prior to her daughter’s admission.
“At the time of these incidents, Tucker was 18 and [the girl] was 15 years old,” Detective Josh Brady wrote in the affidavit. “[The girl] is not old enough to consent to sexual intercourse.”
Tucker did not return a request for comment.
Deputies conducted a “controlled call” — a recorded phone call with cops listening in — between the girl and Tucker on Feb. 1. The two discussed what would happen if the girls’ parents or the police found out about the sex. Tucker told her he didn’t know what she should do, but he would deny it ever happened, even in court.
“I don’t want to say keep your mouth shut, that sounds demanding,” he said, according to a partial transcript included on the probable cause affidavit.
Brady included Tucker’s statement that he would lie in court as a reason for seeking a warrant on lewd and lascivious behavior on a minor older than 12 but younger than 16. (She was 15).
The charge is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. And, by the letter of the law, if convicted, Tucker would have to register as a sexual offender.
A defense lawyer speaking on background said one of the only ways Tucker can avoid not having to register — if convicted — is if the State Attorney’s Office were to offer him a deal to plead guilty to felony battery, a third-degree felony.
The Monroe County State Attorney’s Office was not immediately available for comment.
Also, if convicted on the original charge, Tucker can appeal the registration requirement under the 2017 “Romeo and Juliet” law.
The Legislature passed the law to “address concerns about high school age youth being labeled as sexual offenders or sexual predators as a result of participating in a consensual sexual relationship,” according to a September 2011 brief issued by the Florida Senate’s Committee on Criminal Justice.