ZEPHYRHILLS - Enrique "Rickey" Garcia didn't shy away from questions about his past Thursday morning. Wearing silver-framed glasses, his hair on his head and face a salt-and-pepper color, Garcia admitted he was wrong. Garcia performed a sex act on his adopted teenage daughter while living in Escambia County, near Pensacola. He spent 3?˝ years in prison. Now, he's a registered sex offender.
"We are villains already and we're classified as villains," Garcia, 60, said. "A lot of us weren't villains before that. We were just regular people like many others. We made some severe mistakes and committed some serious crimes and I can appreciate the public being wary of us, that's not a problem. "We need to succeed and not to harm another human being or harm another child again. We have to be at peace with ourselves. We have to recognize who we are, what we did and how we can prevent it," he said. Garcia was one of a handful of offenders Pasco sheriff's office Detective Scott Anderson checked on Thursday. Anderson is part of a three-member Sex Offender Unit dedicated to checking on the more than 700 offenders in Pasco County. Anderson is tasked with looking after close to 250 offenders from Land O' Lakes to Lutz and north to Dade City. During their daily sweeps, the detectives ensure the offenders are compliant with the terms of their probation. They must have their addresses updated; they must be living at the address they give the sheriff's office; they can't have Internet access and if they do, they must provide every email address they use; and many cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school, playground or anywhere else children tend to gather, among other restrictions. The 19-year law enforcement veteran has witnessed plenty in the time he has been with the unit. He's investigated a man who unsuccessfully attempted to castrate himself because he couldn't control his thoughts. Another offender, accused of fondling his stepdaughter, was shot in the head while awaiting trial, but survived. It's not that he needs much motivation to successfully track and prevent offenders from committing another crime, but Anderson's 4-year-old daughter, who he and his wife adopted, provides an extra incentive for success. "It is very important to me that she keeps her innocence," Anderson said. "I get to hold these guys responsible for their actions. Their actions in the future or their inactions, but I'm the guy who gets to hold these guys responsible so that children and the victims can hopefully, first off, maintain their innocence if it's a child victim, or not be victimized if it's an adult victim. That's why I do the job I do." While not condoning his actions, Garcia said the pressures of life pushed him in the wrong direction. He said his wife died of cancer and he became the sole caregiver to their five children. He was a school teacher and also attending college. He said he should have turned to counseling. Garcia now lives in Zephyrhills with three other offenders in a mobile home on the same block with other offenders. That's primarily due to his probation restrictions, which stipulates he must not live near schools, parks, playgrounds, daycare centers or other places where children are likely to congregate. "Any of us, almost all of us, people I've been associated with, we don't like who we are," Garcia said. "We don't like what we've done. We feel not at peace with it and we feel very shamed, but to get over that, we have to start - for a lack of a better word - liking ourself. We have to start to forgive ourselves. We have to start to realize we are people, we're not monsters and to be able to live in this society again. To be able to contribute if it's possible." [email protected] (813) 371-1860 Twitter: @EDanielsTBO