Tampa Woman Charged with Lewd or Lascivious Molestation for Posing as Teenager

May 2, 2024 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Sex Crimes

Law enforcement in Tampa have arrested a young woman on two separate occasions after reports of alleged sexual misconduct with minors. The 22-year-old is being accused of posing as a teenager online to engage in sexual relations with young teenage boys, which includes video evidence.

This page will provide the case details and information pertaining to the relative charges against the defendant.

Case Details

Tampa police arrested a woman alleged to have posed as a minor online to engage in relationships with other minors. According to the report, 22-year-old Alyssa Zinger was first arrested on November 24, 2023. The initial investigation found that Zinger had contacted a minor through an online social media platform, claiming that she was an online home-school student.

After Zinger was transferred to Orient Road Jail, she was charged with two (2) counts of lewd or lascivious battery and five (5) counts of lewd and lascivious molestation in which the defendant was over 18 and the victim was between the ages of 12-15.

“It’s disturbing and unsettling to see an adult take advantage of a child and prey on them,” said Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw. “Anyone who may have been a victim of Zinger’s, we encourage you to come forward. The Tampa Police Department will support you and ensure a predator like Zinger doesn’t cause you or others additional harm.”

Zinger was let out of jail from pre-trial release when police obtained new information. Another report indicated that four more victims came forward since November, which resulted in Zinger being arrested again. The additional victims ranged in age between 13 and 14.

The subsequent investigation has found that Zinger was using both Snapchat and TikTok to communicate with the minors. She is alleged to have engaged in sexual acts with each of the victims over different points in 2023. Investigators have also stated there is video evidence of multiple sex acts that included Zinger and the minors.

In court, Zinger’s defense counsel argued that the defendant was not the one who was filmed the videos, and that she had experienced multiple challenges while growing up.

“This family has dealt with severe emotional and developmental issues with Ms. Zinger growing up,” said attorney Dana Herce-Fulgueira. “I think it’s clear from just the content of the text messages. This is not a 22-year-old adult having communication with somebody who she saw as her equal.”

The State argued that there was no school record indicating developmental delays.

“This is not a 22-year-old child,” said State Attorney Muriel Moore. “This is an adult. A 22-year-old adult.”

The judge denied Zinger bond after the second arrest, despite the State claiming that she didn’t violate any of her conditions or attempted to flee.

“You don’t really seem to grasp the problem here,” Judge Laura Ward said. “You are the problem here. Your actions on these boys are illegal. And it’s not okay, whether they took the video or you took the video. You are the only adult.”

After the second arrest, Zinger is now facing 11 felony offenses including lewd and lascivious molestation, lewd and lascivious batter, sexual cyber harassment, and possession of child pornography.

Zinger has also been ordered by the judge to have no access to electronics while in jail. The investigation is still ongoing.

Lewd and Lascivious Acts in Florida

According to the Florida Senate, the terms “lewd” and “lascivious” have been defined by the Florida Supreme Court to mean a wicked, lustful, unchaste, licentious, or sensual intent on the part of the person doing an act.

Under Florida Statute Section 800.04, lewd and lascivious acts are broken down into the following categories:

  • Lewd or lascivious battery – Engaging in sexual activity with a minor between the ages of 12 – 16 or encouraging, forcing, or enticing a minor younger than 16 to engage in any other act involving sexual activity. Considered a second-degree felony, or a first-degree felony if the defendant was over 18 at the time and was previously convicted of a sex crime.
  • Lewd or lascivious molestation – Intentionally touching a person younger than 16 in a lewd or lascivious manner on the breasts, genitals, genital area, buttocks, or the clothing covering them. Considered a third-degree felony if the defendant was under 18, a second-degree felony if the defendant was a minor and the victim was under 12 or the defendant was over 18 and the victim was between the ages of 12 – 16, a first-degree felony if the defendant was over 18 and was previously convicted of a sex crime, or a life felony if the defendant is over 18 and where the victim was under 12.
  • Lewd or lascivious conduct – Intentionally touching a person under 12 in a lewd or lascivious manner or soliciting a person under 16 to commit a lewd and lascivious act. Considered a third-degree felony if the defendant was under 18, or a second-degree felony if the defendant was over 18.
  • Lewd or lascivious exhibition – Intentionally masturbating, exposing one’s genitals, or committing any other sex act that does not involve actual physical or sexual contact with the victim, but shows a simulation of any act involving sexual activity in the presence of a victim under 16. Considered a third-degree felony if the defendant is under 18, or a second-degree felony if the defendant is over 18.

Read our page on lewd and lascivious acts to find out more about these criminal offenses.

What is Sexual Cyberharassment?

Definitions regarding sexual cyberharassment are outlined below:

  • Sexually explicit image: Any image that depicts nudity, or a person engaging in sexual conduct.
  • Personal identification information: Any identifying information about a person such as their name, postal or email address, phone number, social security number, date or birth, or any unique physical representation.
  • Sexually cyberharass: To publish online or send to another person electronically a sexually explicit image of a person which conveys their personal identification of the person depicted and without their consent, with the intent to cause emotional distress to the depicted person.

Under Florida Statute Section 784.049, a person who willfully and maliciously sexually cyberharasses (also referred to as revenge porn) another person faces a first-degree misdemeanor. The charge can be increased to a third-degree felony if the defendant has a prior conviction for sexual cyberharassment.

Important: A police officer is authorized to arrest any person, without a warrant, if they have probable cause that this violation has occurred. A search warrant may then be issued for further investigation to search in a private dwelling.

It should also be mentioned that the defendant can also face civil penalties as well, with the possibility of paying up to $10,000 or the actual damages that incurred because of this type of criminal violation.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, FL

The stigma that comes with an alleged sex crime is extremely harsh. Florida prosecutors tend to seek out the harshest penalties for cases involving minor victims. If you or someone you know is being prosecuted for a sex crime, you will need criminal defense for your case. These cases often result in lengthy trials, and it cannot be stressed enough how important securing the right legal representation is.

To fight against a conviction that can lead to expensive fines, long prison sentencing, and a lifelong registration as a sexual offender, consider hiring legal defense through Pumphrey Law Firm. We can provide you with a free consultation to review your case details and determine what defense(s) may be available to you. Contact our office today by calling (850) 681-7777 or fill out our online form.

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