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Sex offender blames COVID-19 quarantine for not registering

Christopher Anthony Votos

A convicted sex offender from Ocala says he failed to register in April as required by law because he was in quarantine.

Christopher Anthony Votos, 65, of 4064 SW 50th Road, was charged recently with failing to register biannually as a sex offender. Votos was convicted in August 2015 of using a computer to solicit or lure a child to engage in sexual conduct and is required to register twice a year – in April and October. Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show he has registered 10 time since his conviction.

On May 19, Votos reported to the lobby of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Sexual Predator Unit (SOPU) to update his vehicle information. A deputy checked the FDLE offender watch and saw Votos had not registered in Marion or any other Florida county, nor had he been arrested, during the month of April, according to the sheriff’s office arrest report.

A sign had been posted March 30 on the front door of the SOPU saying the lobby would be closed temporarily and registrations would be conducted through the lobby door, due to the threat of COVID-19 contamination. The sign instructed offenders to wait in line a safe distance from one another, and when it was his or her turn to register, to approach the door and call the phone number on the sign. Registration would then be conducted through the door, the report said.

Votos told the deputy he reported to the office on both April 1 and 2, and he had called the number listed on the sign both days. He said he left voice messages both days and then went into quarantine for a month. Votos said he knew he should have come back to register but he thought he would get a call back from the voice mail he left, according to the report.

After being read his Miranda warning, Votos told the deputy he said what he had to say, and if there were any more questions, he wanted his lawyer present. He said he was complying with what the governor said to do. Votos agreed he should have made another attempt during the month to see if the office was open, the report said.

Votos was taken to the Marion County Jail, where he was released May 21 on $5,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in Marion County Court on June 23.

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