Gainesville man charged with trying to kidnap 17-year-old girl from Depot Park in broad daylight

Staff report

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. 

  • I suspect he is one of those “undocumented” criminals that Trump warned us about.

  • “Canton has no local criminal history” but is he from here locally? It’d be nice if background checks were nationwide.
    Regardless, this creep needs the death penalty.

  • “he allegedly said he wanted to “kidnap” her, take her to Miami, “drug her, rape her, and then kill [her].”
    In some cultures, that’s what they call “romancing.”

  • Take him directly to the Everglades and let him swim out. And if he succeeds then shoot him.

  • I think these types should be put down. Think of it as a benefit…to society and taxpayers; especially given the recent decision by the county clown commissioners.

  • Hmm? Is he really a “Gainesville Man?” Probably more like he “hangs out” in Gainesville since it is so welcoming to vagrants and criminals!

  • Why was a 17 year old girl at Depot Park alone to start with? I mean yea, this guy was obviously preying and prowling for vulnerable young woman, I’m not at all excusing his behavior, he needs to be punished to the full extent of the law for his actions.
    But it does beg the question, where were her parents or guardians?
    17 years old? Alone at Depot Park?
    How many 17 year old young women roam around Depot Park/Downtown Gainesville alone, without like a pack of her friends thier own age? And Not Staring At Mobile Devices for that matter? 😜
    Why was she allowed by her guardian/guardians to be there alone to start with is my question?

    • Maybe she was waiting for a friend to finish a downtown appt with a lawyer or court. No excuse for the perp, I agree.

    • A 17 year old would have any number of reasons to be alone anywhere…she is old enough to drive, be a dual enrolled college student, have a job, or run errands for her family.

      It is not unreasonable that she was enjoying some sunshine in a park. That’s not sketchy on her part, or neglectful on her parents’ part.

      The fault here is entirely on that awful, aggressive criminal.

      We should not treat a 17 y/o like a young child…she’s on the threshold of adulthood with all the privileges and responsibilities that go with it. If minors are overly monitored/hovered over as they approach 18, they will be ill prepared to launch into adulthood successfully.

      Society should be concerned not with controlling the victim in this case, but making the park, and everywhere else, safe for any of us to enjoy. And we as citizens need to be alert and aware of our surroundings – good for that young lady to have the presence of mind to call her friend.

      That is not to say that parents don’t still have a vital, very involved role for an older teenager, but it’s not in being physically present every moment – I say this as a mom and grandma who is very connected and protective of my family.

  • This idiot has all the red flags for the next Ted Bundy. He may be testing the waters. Feed him to the sharks.

  • There are tons of cameras at Depot park. I hope they’re reviewed for the sake of everyone involved to corroborate this girl’s story. I personally know this man and although his judgement wasn’t the best at times, I feel like he got wrapped up doing the wrong thing with the wrong person. He should have never approached, let alone been involved with an underage girl, that’s a fact beyond argument. However, I have known and seen many girls who entice men then use the innocent card to get out of trouble. Was it proven that she wasn’t sitting there alone waiting for him? Perhaps they met online and decided to meet up? There are 3 sides to every story: his, hers, and the truth. View those cameras before just accepting this story as gospel.

    • I agree. I mean what person intending to “rape, murder and kidnap” you walks with you to the store to buy you a drink and allow you to call/text your friend at will. There are far too many holes in this story.

  • And this man is a RN at a Treatment Center, his license needs to be taken ASAP! If he did this to a 17yo, imagine how many he could’ve possibly assaulted during work and lied because it’s a Treatment Center! SMH

    • It’s a violent criminal mens evaluation and treatment center. The only women there are employees not patients

  • Yes he is a nurse,so am I and I have worked with him and unfortunately there are a lot of family problems within his culture at home. His mom is a nurse also and hoped he would be successful Iike her.

  • He’s a nurse at a mens mental prison hospital. He should not have been with this girl at all. But what kidnapper walks his victim to a store to buy a drink in public or continues to walk around after saying such crazy things. There are too many holes in this story. I’d like to see the video surveillance and hear his side of this story

  • HE’S FROM PHILIPPINES WHAT AN AWFUL COUNTRY ZZZ we used to work in same hospital before he was a weirdo

  • This guy is hella creepy. I remember once he called me in messenger out of the blue even though we’re not close. This guy deserve some kind of punishment for that kind of sickening mental state. His a fcking idiot and the fact that his a nurse.

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