Registered juvenile sex offender in Bradenton facing new sexual-battery charge

MANATEE -- A registered juvenile sex offender is facing a new sexual-battery charge after investigators say he had sex with a 15-year-old girl, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Eric Tucker, 18, was charged with lewd and lascivious battery on Wednesday after investigators learned about the sexual relationship he had with a 16-year-old girl and that it had started when she was 15, according to an arrest report.

On Jan. 23, 2012, Tucker, was convicted of sexual battery by a juvenile on a victim under the age of 12, according to the National Sex Offender Registry. During 2011, it was determined that then-15-year-old Tucker had raped a 5-year-old girl who was known to him. Tucker was released from the Department of Juvenile Justice on June 5, 2013, court records show.

On July 30, deputies arrested Tucker after he failed to notify authorities of an address change, as required because of his status as a sex offender.

Tucker was in custody at the Manatee County Jail on Wednesday when the new charge was filed against him.

He remains in custody with bonds totaling $30,000.

Tucker has entered a not-guilty plea for the failure to report an address charge. He is set to go to trial in that case on Feb. 2.

Investigators interviewed Tucker at the jail before filing the latest sexual battery charge.

Tucker admitted to being in a sexual relationship with the victim and that they had begun dating in October 2013 when he was 17, according to his arrest report. He told detectives he knew the consent age in Florida but did not have sex with the girl until she turned 16 this year.

The victim told detectives that the relationship had quickly turned sexual after it began, but that it was always consensual.

Tucker said he could not explain why the victim would say the relationship was sexual before she had turned 16, but then had difficulty remembering dates, giving detectives at least three different time frames, the report said.

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