Case against accused child predator in Seminole moving forward for now

Pinellas County

SEMINOLE, Fla. (WFLA) – The case against James Rybicki has not been dismissed.

Lucas Fleming, Rybicki’s attorney had hoped a status hearing held Friday morning would be the final one but that was not the case.

Rybicki is accused of taking sexually explicit photos of young girls in his Seminole neighborhood. Deputies arrested him in 2016.

8 On Your Side spoke with Rae, who is a victim in the James Rybicki case and has asked to not use her real name or identity.

She’s an adult now but recalls her interaction with Rubicki in her Seminole neighborhood when she was 14.

“Just asked me to bring over cute clothes and stuff and he would take photos and pay me,” said Rae, who knew what Rybicki was doing didn’t feel right. “So he had many creepy, sly ways of doing … what satisfied him, apparently.”

Earlier this month, however, a judge ruled crucial evidence that could have led to his conviction was inadmissible because a detective falsified information to obtain a search warrant.

Detective Michael Alvarez left the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in 2017 and went to work for the Ann Arbor Police Department in Michigan. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says what Alvarez did is criminal.

“You know it’s wrong. If he was here in Pinellas County, I’d have him arrested and put in jail,” said Gualtieri. “He’s not. He doesn’t work here anymore. He hasn’t worked here since 2017.”

Despite the developments, a prosecutor told the judge the state attorney’s office is still evaluating the case and determining if it will move forward on any of the charges.

The move surprises Fleming.

“I think after six and a half years, I don’t know what evidence they can find to move forward on the charges,” said Fleming. “Certainly, three of the five charges because the state is not going to appeal the search warrant order. So they won’t be able to move forward on three of the five. Two are based on witness testimony.”

Rybicki wasn’t present for Friday’s proceeding. The judge set another hearing in the case for Dec. 6 at 8:30 a.m. The prosecutor told the judge her office will have a decision on what’s next at that hearing.

Rae is now fearful there may be other victims if this case is dismissed.

“He’s just going to think, not like a slap on the wrist, he’ll probably do it again. He was just like that,” said Rae. “There was a lot of people he tried to do that to.”

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