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Deputies Searching for Man Who Allegedly Abused Teen, Started GoFundMe to Flee Country


Where is Keith Morris Smith Jr.? The Florida man is on the run after cutting his ankle bracelet, according the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. He went as far as to start a GoFundMe campaign to flee the country, authorities said.

In an arrest report viewed by Law&Crime, investigators cited supporting details, including: the claims of the 15-year-old girl’s parents; the child acknowledging what authorities paraphrased as a “romantic relationship”; an adult (name redacted) who claimed to see a Snapchat depicting sexual abuse; and jailhouse phone calls in which Smith, 29, admitted the relationship.

“I’ll never have a girlfriend like that again,” he said in the document.

Law&Crime has viewed a “Trying to be free” campaign that matched the one referenced in the deputies’ video. It stated that a Keith Smith is the organizer, and was created 3 days ago. It had raised $0 of a $2,000 goal as of Thursday afternoon, and was eventually taken down by the company.

“I was on bond that was revoked over something I never did,” wrote the organizer. “Now I’m on the run. There’s no going back now I’ve already cut off my monitor and got rid of most of my things except for clothes. If I go back to jail I’ll die. I need help with the money to get out of the country. I have no assets because I sold everything of value to get out of jail after fighting the case for over a year. Just to have it unjustly taken by a lie and a corrupt establishment. I have started a vlog to show my journey.”

Smith is charged with lewd and lascivious battery of a teenager between the ages of 12 and 16, to which he pleaded not guilty. Clay County deputies said he was released on bond, but violated the conditions of his release.

Deputies ask that anyone with information call (904) 264-6512.

“At GoFundMe, the protection and safety of our community is of the utmost importance, and all fundraisers must abide by our Terms of Service,” GoFundMe spokesperson Claudia Curiel told Law&Crime in a statement, linking to their policies. “I can confirm the campaign was removed from the platform because it violated GoFundMe Terms of Service before any donations were made.”

Smith’s attorney of record Jennifer Cogdill declined to comment when Law&Crime reached out on the phone.

Update – 5:02 p.m.: The campaign has been taken down from GoFundMe.

5:53 p.m.: We added a statement provided by GoFundMe.

[Mugshot via Clay County Sheriff’s Office]

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