A local man was arrested on December 30 and charged with child molestation and battery along with producing pornography. However, according to Gulfport Police Detective Sergeant Thomas Woodman, “Right now we don’t have any reason to believe that he was just randomly molesting kids.”
Joseph Blaze Forgetta, 57, was arrested and initially charged with five felonies, where the two sexual battery charges are capital offenses. The charges are two counts of sexual battery of a child under the age of 12; one count of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under the age of 12; and two counts of producing child pornography. The lewd and lascivious molestation charge has a maximum penalty of life in prison according to Florida statues.
Police urge people to be “cautious” in the area of Gulfport where Forgetta lives which is near the intersection of 53rd Street South and 29th Avenue South, said Woodman.
If people know the suspect “then they should probably want to question their child” because police have reason to believe there may be additional victims, particularly among those who may live near him, said Woodman.
The incidents Forgetta is currently charged with occurred at a different address in Gulfport other than his home, which is where he told a detective he lives with his parents, said Woodman.
According to a press release issued in the early morning hours of December 31 on a Facebook page maintained by the Gulfport Police Department, Chief Rob Vincent wrote, “The victim and two other children were staying the night together at the home of a family member who is involved in a relationship with Forgetta.”
Police say a family member reported the situation to them just after noon on December 30 when “a girl under the age of 12 told her mother that Forgetta had committed a sex act with her the previous evening.” Based on the complaint, by 9:35 p.m. the same day Forgetta was arrested, said Woodman.
During the investigation, the press release details that police found at least one other victim under the age of 12 who, according to police, “Forgetta had committed sex acts with on two previous occasions during the past year, including taking photos and video during the incidents.”
Court records show the offense dates in 2017 were June 2 and 6, December 11 and December 29.
Forgetta had “access to these kids through family members,” said Woodman.
This is an active, ongoing investigation, said Woodman. “There could be additional charges” depending on further results.
Forgetta is currently in the Pinellas County Jail awaiting trial with a bond of $320,000.
Anyone who believes a child has had contact with Forgetta, or who has other information relating to the case, should contact Gulfport Detective Jennifer Crowson at 727-893-1043, said Woodman.