A man who lives in the Hancock County community of Bayside Park is now behind bars, charged with two counts of sexual battery.
Hancock County sheriff's Chief Investigator Glenn Grannan said Nickolas Dardar, 30, is accused of assaulting a 5-year-old girl known to him.
Grannan said Child Protective Services started an investigation into Dardar in February after receiving complaints, including an anonymous tip. Grannan said the alleged battery dates back to at least October, when he said the girl's teachers noticed "strange behavior" in class.
Grannan said CPS attempted, unsuccessfully, to schedule multiple forensic interviews. He said the Department of Human Services ultimately received an emergency order to take the girl on March 16 before formally taking custody of the girl three days later.
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"As it (the missed interviews) went along, after you miss a few times their concern level rises," Grannan said.
Dardar came to the sheriff's office to be interviewed about the girl Tuesday.
"After we spoke to him and gave him the opportunity to explain some things, we executed the warrant," Grannan said.
The Hancock investigator praised the tipster and the girl's school for raising alerts about possible instances of abuse.
"They gave this little girl a chance at life," he said.
Because of the age range between Dardar and the victim, if convicted on just one count the Hancock man could face 20 years to life, according to state law.
The Sun Herald only names a suspect in a sexual assault case if they are charged with more than one felony count, they are indicted or they are in a position of trust or leadership.