Former decorated veteran, accused child sex predator appears in FL court


Former U.S. Army service member Manuel Tavis McGhee, 37, made his first appearance in a Polk County courtroom on April 18th.  8 On Your Side Investigates is staying on the case of this accused child predator who authorities said slipped through the cracks for years.

“I don’t want this guy to see the light of day again,” said Chief Charles Bird of the Winter Haven Police Department.

McGhee is facing two counts of sexual battery on a child under the age of 12.  This is related to an alleged incident in Winter Haven.

Through a video conference, McGhee waived the reading of the charges against him and he requested an attorney.  Right now, he is being held at a medical dorm in the jail.  He is unable to have visitors.  

Winter Haven detectives meticulously built their case against McGhee for four months.  He was taken into custody in Knoxville, Tennessee and extradited to Polk County.

This is 13 years after he was first accused of sexually abusing a child while stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.  The 15 counts of sexual battery on a child were dismissed in that case due to a lack of evidence.

Since then, Chief Bird said McGhee was suspected of similar crimes in Georgia and Lakeland, Florida.

“I think that he honestly believes that he’s going to get away from this one as well,” said Chief Bird.

8 On Your Side obtained new documents from the National Archives that laid out part of McGhee’s military history. 

Accused of the worst crimes now, he is also the recipient of five medals including the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal and Iraq Campaign Medal. 

The document does not state how or why McGhee was discharged from the military.  

Additionally, information about the  2006 child sex abuse case in Fort Bragg is missing.  

McGhee is being held without bond.  8 On Your Side will continue to follow developments in this case and request public records.

On August 14, 2019, a spokeswoman for Fort Bragg provided 8 On Your Side Investigates with new information on the McGhee case.  

According to U.S. Army officials, there was a court-martial against former PFC Manuel McGhee at Fort Bragg in November 2007. The case was tried, and that Soldier was acquitted

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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