Florida

Florida caregiver impregnated disabled woman — but his arrest took 4 years, police say

Willie Fred Shorter, a caregiver at a Rockledge, Florida, group home for people with disabilities, impregnated a disabled woman in Jan. 2015, and she later gave birth, police say. He was arrested this month.
Willie Fred Shorter, a caregiver at a Rockledge, Florida, group home for people with disabilities, impregnated a disabled woman in Jan. 2015, and she later gave birth, police say. He was arrested this month. Brevard County

A Florida caregiver was arrested Wednesday for impregnating a disabled woman — four years after staff at her group home found out she was with child, police say.

Willie Fred Shorter, 58, faces a charge of lewd and lascivious battery on a disabled person, according to The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

Police say they first received reports of a pregnant woman with disabilities at a group home in Rockledge in Jan 2015, according to Fox35. The woman, whom police haven’t publicly identified, is described as having “the mental capacity of a small child,” the TV station reported.

Four years later, Shorter was arrested Wednesday at Woodsmere Estates Group Home, which is located in Rockledge, according to WESH2. The outlet reported that “it’s not clear from the affidavit if that it is where the woman was impregnated.”

David Cooke, CEO of Bridges — a non-profit group for people with disabilities that owns the Woodsmere Estates Group Homesaid Shorter was one of his employees but has since been fired, according to Florida Today.

“We’ve been in Brevard for 62 years serving people with disabilities,” Cooke said, according to Florida Today. “We are absolutely devastated. This is devastating for the client, for the family. It’s devastating for the staff who work so hard everyday, working for our clients with significant disabilities.”

The woman gave birth in May 2015, and her family adopted the child, according to Florida Today.

But for years, police say they struggled to prove who fathered the child. Police say they wanted to DNA test Shorter, whom the disabled woman said might be the father, but “there was not enough evidence” to legally require the man to comply, Fox35 reported.

Shorter agreed to give a sample of his DNA in April 2018, after the woman accused him of sexual assault, police say, according to Fox35.

The DNA results came in Wednesday, and found a 99.9 percent match between Shorter and the child, according to WESH2.

Donna Seyferth, deputy police chief of the Rockledge Police Department, said she is glad to bring justice, even if it might feel delayed.

“Unfortunately, forensic science doesn’t always move as quick as we like,” Seyferth told Florida Today. “We’re glad to be able to have some closure in the case.”

Real-Time reporter Josh Magness covers breaking national news and trending news to keep readers of McClatchy’s newspapers up to date with the latest high-profile stories. He previously interned at McClatchy’s bureau in Washington, D.C, while covering the U.S. Congress.


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