Florida Man Arrested After Repeatedly Pushing 12-Year-Old Girl to the Ground During Soccer Practice, Before Hugging and Tickling Her

A 40-year-old Florida man was arrested this week after being accused of repeatedly pushing a child to the ground during a soccer game, police say.

Donald Edward Mullins, of Tarpon Springs, was detained by deputies from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office Tuesday morning and charged with simple battery. The incident took place in New Port Richey at approximately 7:20 p.m. on November 4, an arrest report said.

According to police, the victim, a 12-year-old girl, said Mullins had pushed her to the ground between three and four times against her will.

The suspect is a coach for a separate soccer team but had joined a scheduled practice game being held for the juvenile victim's team at the time of the incident, deputies recorded.

The child said the pushing occurred during that match, with police noting that such contact is not considered to be "part of the normal gameplay." The victim, who was not named in the report, noted that her encounter with the soccer coach did not end there, alleging that it continued after the match.

The sheriff's office filing stated: "The victim said after the practice, the defendant approached her and hugged her from behind while she sat on a bench."

It added: "The victim said the defendant forced her hands above her head and began to tickle her, all against her will, even after she tried to pull away and told him to stop."

Police said the man was captured on video surveillance hugging and tickling the girl. Mullins later told investigators he believed the victim to be a family friend and conceded that his actions had been unacceptable. He was arrested and transported to the county jail.

"Post miranda, with his attorney present, the defendant admitted to playing in a practice game with the victim and having 'incidental' contact," the arrest report stated, adding: "[Mullins] admitted to hugging the victim and grabbing her arms prior to ticking her."

The arrest was confirmed using inmate records posted online, which said he was booked into the facility at about 2 p.m. on Tuesday. He was released about an hour and a half later after posting $500 bond. A LinkedIn profile linked to the suspect has since been deleted.

In Florida, simple battery is a first-degree misdemeanor which carries penalties of up to one year in jail, 12 months probation, and a $1,000 fine, says law firm Hussein & Webber. "To commit the crime of misdemeanor battery, an accused does not have to injure the alleged victim. The intentional touching against another person's will is sufficient," it notes.

Donald Edward Mullins
Donald Edward Mullins, of Tarpon Springs, was detained by deputies on November 19 and charged with simple battery. Pasco County Sheriff’s Office