Florida

The men plotted to groom and rape a 3-year-old, deputies say. They’re both behind bars.

Lafe Best, left, and Benjamin Worster
Lafe Best, left, and Benjamin Worster Volusia County Sheriff's Office

It was the mother of a 3-year-old girl who helped law enforcement officers foil a plot to groom and rape her daughter, authorities say.

On Wednesday, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of Lafe Best, 37. Best joins Benjamin Worster, 39, who was arrested in January.

According to the sheriff’s office, Ormond Beach police arrested Worster on charges of lewd or lascivious molestation, lewd or lascivious conduct and 21 counts of possession of child pornography.

The arrest came after the mother of the 3-year-old saw text messages on Worster’s phone with “a sickening description of a plan to groom and rape the 3-year-old girl, whether she was conscious or not,” the department said in a lengthy Facebook post.

The sheriff’s office said in the post that it was including several of the messages “because they demonstrate how predators work to groom young children for sexual abuse.”

In the messages, which were between Worster and Best, Worster says the mom and daughter were living with him and that the mom often ignores her daughter.

“I’m looking up things under an anonymous browser on things that will safely make kids pass out for a couple hours,” Worster wrote in one of the messages.

Best, who police say was Worster’s friend and partner, encouraged the plan to groom the child.

“You never know if her junkie mom can’t come up with rent one month she might [j]ust give her to you, lol wishful thinking,” he wrote.

The Volusia County State Attorney’s Office looped in the sheriff’s office Friday because Best lives in the county’s jurisdiction, according to the sheriff’s office.

On Tuesday, deputies showed up at Best’s home with search warrant and found what appeared to be child pornography on his cell phone. They also found the text messages with Worster, the sheriff’s office said.

Best was charged with conspiracy to commit sexual battery on a child. Deputies say he will likely face additional charges.

Carli Teproff grew up in Northeast Miami-Dade and graduated from Florida International University in 2003. She became a full-time reporter for the Miami Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news.
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