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Wellington man arrested in decades-old sexual battery case

Updated: 5:08 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016  |  Posted: 1:16 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016

By Lulu Ramadan – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Nearly 40 years had passed, but a Lake Clarke Shores woman who claims her uncle sexually battered her in the summer of 1975 wanted justice.

So in February 2013, she told her story to town Police Chief Wes Smith. And on Tuesday, a Wellington man was arrested and will face a capital sexual battery charge — punishable by life in prison or death — stemming from her allegations.

Michael Eugene Vanscoy of Wellington made his first appearance in court Wednesday. Judge Joseph Marx set bail at $10,000 on the single charge of sexual battery.

The victim, now 51 but 10 at the time, reported the abuse to her mother at the time, but nothing came of it, Smith said Wednesday.

“This is something that’s been bothering her for years and year and years,” Smith said. “It’s hard to explain unless you’re a victim or you’ve been a victim, but it’s hard for people to move on with their lives.”

Vanscoy, now 74, was living in Lake Clarke Shores at the time. The alleged battery happened at his home, the arrest report said.

The victim told police that Vanscoy pinned her against the wall of a swimming pool and sexually battered her. She also said Vanscoy had also followed her into the master bedroom of the home that same day and sexually battered her again for at least five minutes, she told police.

Under Florida Statutes, because the sexual battery involved the “penetration” of a child under the age of 12, the offense is considered capital. Capital offenses have no statute of limitations, so Vanscoy can be prosecuted even four decades later.

Vanscoy had no clue about the allegations and was blindsided by the charges, despite the alleged victim’s statement being taken by police more than a year ago, his attorney, Scott Skier, said in court Wednesday.

Skier told the court that Vanscoy, who has lived in Palm Beach County for 50 years, runs no risk of failing to show up for his hearing. Marx still chose to impose bail.

Vanscoy has been arrested only once before, for reckless driving in 1977, records show.

Smith said there are 24 supplemental reports, all with evidence against Vanscoy, collected over the past three years. No other victims have brought allegations against Vanscoy, but the investigation remains open in case others do, Smith said.

Police contacted the alleged victim’s mother after the allegations surfaced, the arrest report says. The mother refused to give a statement. She told officers they would have to subpoena her before she would cooperate.

“The victim in this case really pushed the investigation forward,” Smith said. “Most of the time people just walk away. She wanted to bring justice.”

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