BROOKSVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa Bay area foster parent was the focus of two investigations, and the biological parents involved in one case are frustrated they were not informed about the criminal probe.
Geoffrey Bryan Prout, 31, of Tampa, was arrested in November on seven counts, including lewd or lascivious molestation and sexual battery familial or custodial authority.
The crimes were allegedly committed Oct. 1, 2019, according to court records. Neither the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) nor Tampa police are releasing details about the case, including whether foster children were allegedly victimized.
Ashlee Harris and Robert White said DCF took custody of their daughters last Spring after White was arrested on drug charges.
“Very, very hard. It was tough,” White said. “It was a stupid mistake.”
“It was probably the toughest thing I had to go through,” Harris said, fighting tears.
They said their kids were placed with Prout and another foster father.
White said he suspects the criminal investigation was underway when his children were placed. He and Harris are angry they did not find out about the investigation or arrest from DCF until November.
“Child Protective Services (CPS) didn’t even tell us about it,” White said. “We found out from the caregiver, the new foster parents.”
Before White knew Prout was under investigation by Tampa police in the unrelated molestation case, he filed a complaint with DCF after his daughter alleged a foster parent hit her.
The child told a Child Protective Investigations agent “Mr. Geoffrey hits me,” according to a summary report obtained by 8 On Your Side.
About a week before Prout was arrested in the criminal case, the CPI investigator found “no intervention services were identified in regards to this investigation” involving the couple’s daughters.
The report states there were no “substantial findings of physical injury of the children.”
“I’m furious because I know my daughter’s telling the truth,” Harris said.
“Child Protective Services is supposed to be there to protect your children,” White said. “Not take your children out of a certain situation and put them in a worse one.”
A DCF spokesperson said she was looking into questions about Prout’s licensing status. According to the CPI summary, there were no children in “the foster home any longer as a result of the report.”
Prout’s attorney Patrick Courtney said he cannot comment on pending criminal cases.