HomeCrimeGainesville man charged with trying to kidnap 17-year-old girl from Depot Park in broad daylight
Gainesville man charged with trying to kidnap 17-year-old girl from Depot Park in broad daylight
May 27, 2023
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Val Adam Libres Canton, 25, was arrested yesterday afternoon and charged with false imprisonment, attempted kidnapping, and child abuse after allegedly forcing a 17-year-old girl to walk with him, threatening to kidnap and kill her, and forcibly kissing her.
The 17-year-old girl was reportedly sitting alone at Depot Park at 2:20 p.m. on Thursday afternoon when Canton approached her, introduced himself, and learned that she was 17 years old. He reportedly asked her if she had ever been to Miami, and when she said she hadn’t, he allegedly said he wanted to “kidnap” her, take her to Miami, “drug her, rape her, and then kill [her].” The victim reported that Canton then laughed and that she was in fear for her life at that point but afraid to run because she was alone in the park.
The victim said Canton insisted that she walk with him, then “dragged” her to a nearby tree, where he grabbed her face and kissed her. He then insisted that she go with him to the Pop-a-Top store to get her a drink; she said she was afraid of what he would do to her and felt she had no choice but to go with him. She said that as they walked, he held her hand or wrapped her arm around him to keep her close. When they found that the store was closed, Canton allegedly pulled her by the hand to a nearby tree and again kissed her on the lips.
The victim said she tried to call a friend for help, but the call did not go through. Canton led her back to where he had found her, and while she was there, she was able to call a friend who lives nearby. A short time later, her friend and his father arrived at Depot Park.
The friend’s father told a Gainesville Police Department officer that he saw Canton grabbing the girl from behind and that he appeared to be hugging or wrapping his arms around her; he also said he saw Canton kiss the girl’s hand. He said the victim looked very uncomfortable, prompting him to confront Canton. The friend’s father and Canton got into a verbal argument, and when the father threatened to call the police, Canton reportedly ran to his car. The friend’s father was able to get the tag number from Canton’s car.
The friend’s father flagged down an officer and explained what had happened. A search on the tag number revealed that Canton owned the car, and the victim and the friend’s father both identified Canton in independent photo line-ups. Canton was arrested at his residence on Friday morning.
Canton has no local criminal history but has traffic citations going back to January 2020. Bail information is unavailable on weekends.
Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
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