FLORENCE — Authorities said a Lauderdale County man has been arrested after being accused of sexually molesting a 7-year-old girl and having pornographic photos of her on his cellphone.
“All of this was discovered (Wednesday morning) when the child’s mother discovered these photos and videos on the man’s cellphone),” said James Distefano, an investigator with the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department assigned to One Place of the Shoals, the area’s only family justice center.
Authorities said following an investigation, Michael Tays, 32, Florence, is charged with sexual abuse of a child less than 12, production of child pornography, possession of child pornography, and two counts of first-degree sodomy.
Distefano said his office was notified of the allegations by St. Florian Police, which had been contacted by the victim’s parents.
He said Tays is a family acquaintance of the victim.
Distefano said apparently Tays had been staying with the family when the incident happened.
Reports indicate the child, who is now 8, said it had been going on since July.
“The child’s mother went to use Tays’s phone and saw the images of her daughter,” Distefano said. “She confronted Tays and ordered him out of the house.”
He said a short time later, she located him at a local business, picked him up and took him to the police department.
Reports indicate Tays’s phone contained several inappropriate images and videos of the young girl.
After being questioned, Tays was taken into custody and charged.
He is being held in the Lauderdale County Detention Center on bail of $250,000.
Distefano said the child was not physically injured and is scheduled to begin getting counseling help.
First-degree sodomy is a Class A felony and is punishable by 10 years to life in prison, if convicted.
Sexual abuse of a child under 12 is a Class B felony and carries the punishment of 2 to 20 years in prison, if convicted.
The child porn charges are both Class C felonies and carry a punishment of 1 to 10 years in prison, if convicted.
Distefano said he expects more charges to filed against Tays as the investigation continues.