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Sheriff: Man says he raped girl, 12

MANATEE - A 46-year-old man told detectives he raped a 12-year-old girl after she ran away from home over the weekend, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Kenneth Ross admitted to picking up the girl on Manatee Avenue West at 75th Street West, taking her to his apartment, showing her pornography and raping her, the sheriff’s report said.

Ross faces numerous charges after the girl, who returned home about 18 hours after she ran away, identified him as the man who attacked her.

The girl's mother this afternoon said the sheriff's office returned the girl to her home about 4 a.m. today after completing interviews and that she was "sleeping soundly."

The girl said Ross drove her to his apartment in the 3600 block of Lake Bayshore Drive, where she said she drank whiskey before he put on pornographic movies and repeatedly raped her, the sheriff’s report said. The report said Ross works as a maintenance man.

Meanwhile, the girl’s family reported her missing. After witnesses said she had gotten into a red Jeep Cherokee, a statewide Amber Alert was issued Sunday afternoon because authorities believed her to be in “grave danger,” the sheriff’s report said.

At about 4:30 p.m. Sunday, the girl walked into her house to grateful family members.

She told sheriff’s detectives of the rape during questioning, identified Ross’s vehicle and pulled his picture out of a photo lineup. She said she had slept overnight at his apartment and he had dropped her off Sunday afternoon near her house, in the 5500 block of Second Avenue West. The girl said she had never met Ross.

Detectives arrested Ross after he left his apartment with pornographic movies in his hand. He told detectives he was on his way to “throw it in the Dumpster.”

Ross later admitted he had raped the girl, according to the sheriff's office.

Ross was arrested just before 9:30 p.m. Sunday on five counts of lewd and lascivious battery, lewd and lascivious molestation, giving alcohol to a person under 21, exposing a child to harmful motion pictures and interference with child custody.

At his first appearance this morning, a judge ordered Ross held on bonds totaling $192,500. If he posts bond, the judge ordered supervised release and that Ross not have any contact with children.

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