3 To Know: Forecast continues to sour for Florida’s citrus crop, more
1. Ga. man headed to prison in Collier child sex assault
A Milton, Georgia, man faces at least 25 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of Collier County sex assaults from 2013 to 2015 last week.
The jurors found Paul Gerard Faherty, 50, of Milton, Georgia, guilty of two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of lewd or lascivious battery regarding a child between 12 and 14, according to the State Attorney’s Office, 20th Judicial Circuit. The trial lasted four days.
The courts also determined Faherty is a dangerous sexual felony offender based on a prior conviction for sexual assault in New Jersey.
Court records indicate that Faherty dated a male relative of the boy, gaining access to him after the boy’s father died.
Faherty was arrested by the Collier County Sheriff’s Office in May of 2019, after the victim came forward in late 2018. The allegations stemmed from incidents that took place between 2013 and 2015.
He told detectives that Faherty repeatedly touched him inappropriately, showed him pornography and kissed him on the mouth.
The boy told child welfare workers that Faherty is a “pedophile who is now arrested for doing other things to kids around the country.”
Court records indicate that Faherty was convicted in Utah and New Jersey on similar cases.
A sentencing date has not yet been set; Faherty faces a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison. – Stacey Henson/Staff
2. Kayaker drowns in Estero River; FWC urges '360-degree awareness' while boating
The man who died in a Estero River kayaking accident on Tuesday has been identified as 19-year-old Lehigh Acres resident Jonathan Pierre-Francois, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.
Pierre-Francois was one of two people who fell overboard from a tandem kayak on Tuesday afternoon, officials said. Florida Fish and Wildlife responded to a report of the accident around 12:30 p.m. that day.
One occupant of the kayak swam to shore and called for help, but Pierre-Francois did not resurface, the agency said.
A news release did not specify where in Estero the death occurred.
"All of the members of the FWC want to express their sincere sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased," the agency said. "The FWC would like to take this opportunity to remind all boaters enjoying Florida’s waterways to do so safely.
"Please wear your life jacket and maintain a 360-degree awareness at all times while boating."
Pierre-Francois was a 2021 graduate of Dunbar High School, according to a photo of his diploma posted on his Instagram page.
3. Forecast continues to sour for Florida’s citrus crop
Florida’s struggling citrus industry continues to see a decline in the crop for the current growing season, with the harvest on track for the lowest yield since before World War II.
With the latest sign of trouble for the industry attributed to a recent cold snap, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday dropped its Florida orange forecast by more than 7% from the March update, pushing the decline since the first forecast was issued in October to nearly 19%.
Meanwhile, grapefruit production has been cut nearly 8% from earlier predictions.
“After cold weather events, we expect to see dips like this,” Shelley Rossetter, the Florida Citrus Commission’s assistant director of global marketing, said in an email Friday. “They are never what we want to see but are a part of the set of challenges growers face every season.”
Despite an increased demand for orange juice at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the industry has been on a downward projection for nearly two decades because of residential and commercial development, foreign imports, changes in beverage-consumption habits and, since 2005, an incurable bacterial disease known as citrus greening, or Huanglongbing.
The 2020-21 season ended with 52.8 million industry standard 90-pound boxes filled by oranges. Another 4.1 million boxes contained grapefruit and 890,000 boxes were filled by specialty crops, which are mostly tangerines and tangelos.