Accused child molester freed from ankle bracelet

jdeleon@bradenton.comAugust 30, 2013 

MANATEE -- A Manatee County judge granted a request from a former Manatee County Sheriff's Office lieutenant charged with child molestation to no longer be required to wear an ankle bracelet tracking device.

Dale Couch. charged with three counts of child molestation May 23, appeared Thursday afternoon before Manatee County Judge Thomas Krugg after his lawyer, Gregory Hagopian, filed to alter conditions of his supervised release.

Despite Assistant State Attorney Dawn Buff's concerns, Krug allowed the tracking device to be removed. However, he denied the request to lift Couch's curfew.

At a June 13 hearing, there was confusion about Couch being permitted to leave home. Krug set a curfew of 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. when he was required to be at home.

Couch is also required to check in at the Manatee County courthouse twice a week. Hagopian asked the

judge to reduce it to once a week, but was denied.

Allegations against Couch were initially investigated when a complaint was filed July 25, 2012. Couch was suspended for the duration of an internal investigation. When charges were not filed he returned to duty Nov. 22.

The case was reopened earlier this year after a disclosure to a therapist by one of the children making molestation allegations.

Couch resigned from the sheriff's office the day of his arrest. He had been with the department since 1993 in corrections before making the move to law enforcement in 1995.

A jury trial has been set for April 14.

Tiffany Tompkins-Condie contributed to this report.

Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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