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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Marion sheriff’s detective receives Medal of Commendation for helping sex trafficking victim

A detective with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office was awarded a Medal of Commendation last month for going above and beyond to help a young woman who was a victim of sex trafficking.

During an MCSO Awards Ceremony that was held on December 20, 2023, Inspector John Lightle received a Medal of Commendation for his actions, which helped change the life of Gabrielle Triplett.

MCSO Detective John Lightle with Gabrielle (Selah Freedom) and Sheriff Billy Woods (December 20, 2023 medal of commendation) 2
Inspector John Lightle (left), Gabrielle Triplett (center), and Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods (right) at the awards ceremony on December 20, 2023. (Photo: Selah Freedom)

In March of 2018, MCSO deputies and detectives responded to a local hotel in reference to a gunshot wound. Upon arrival, Inspector Lightle took over the investigation and discovered that the female victim, Triplett, had been shot by her boyfriend in what was described as an “accidental” shooting, according to the sheriff’s office.

MCSO stated that Triplett’s boyfriend was arrested for various narcotics charges, as well as additional firearm-related charges in connection with the shooting.

The investigation into the incident involving Triplett did not stop there. Over the next several months, Inspector Lightle wrote numerous search warrants, over a dozen subpoenas, and interviewed multiple citizens.

During the investigation, Inspector Lightle learned that the shooting was not an accident, but rather a “progression in a shockingly brutal history of domestic violence and human trafficking against the victim,” according to the sheriff’s office.

With assistance from Selah Freedom, a Bradenton-based organization, Inspector Lightle began working with Triplett as she began her restoration journey.

In the five years since the incident, Gabrielle received her GED, earned a college degree, purchased a home, got married, and is happily raising her children. In addition, she is also a full-time staff member at Selah Freedom, working as an Awareness and Volunteer Advocate.

MCSO stated in a social media post that this “remarkable outcome” was made possible due to Inspector Lightle’s “thoroughness, conscientiousness, determination, and initiative” while performing his duties.

“This success required effort and diligence beyond that which is normally required of his position,” added the sheriff’s office. “Moreover, through Gabrielle’s determination and commitment to overcome her circumstances, she has forged a bright, new future for herself and her family.”