Crime

Bradenton man faces life in prison for raping young girl

A Bradenton man is facing life in prison for raping a girl when she was between the ages of 7 and 11.

Mark Brandon Suiter Jr., 46, was found guilty by a jury last week of sexual battery by an adult on a child less than 12 years of age following a 3-day-long trial. Now facing life in prison, Suitor will be sentenced Oct. 11.

Suiter had been charged with two counts of sexual battery but the jury acquitted him off the second count.

“We hope the verdict brings closure and restores a sense of justice to the innocent victim child preyed upon by the defendant. We are thankful that the verdict means that no other child will fall victim to the defendant,” Assistant State Attorney Lauren P. Benson said in an issued statement.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the rapes in January 2017 after the then-12-year-old victim disclosed the abuse to her mother who then reported it. The abuse had occurred repeatedly between January 2011 and December 2015, when Suitor was living with them.

Last week, the girl faced her abuser, testifying against him at trial.

The jury had a few questions before ultimately finding Suiter guilty of only one of the two counts of sexual battery he was charged with.

Suiter was in and out of prison in the 1990’s and has been arrested many times she he was last released. His criminal record includes convictions for for threatening harm to a public official, fleeing or eluding law enforcement, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, burglary and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Jessica De Leon has been covering crime, courts and law enforcement for the Bradenton Herald since 2013. She has won numerous awards for her coverage including the Florida Press Club’s Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting in 2016 for her coverage into the death of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas.
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