Jacksonville police charged a man in a 50-year-old sexual battery case being investigated since December after detectives were warned of the potential for other children to be in danger, police reports said.
Edward James Sundie, 72, was arrested Thursday and charged with one count of sexual battery on a victim 12 to 17 years old. The charge is a capital felony that carries a life sentence and has no statute of limitations in Florida.
Sundie’s arrest report and a second police report said a person called police Dec. 3 to report the allegations of the decades-old case that began when that person was 6 years old and Sundie was 22. The person was not identified as a male or female in Sundie’s arrest report and their relationship also was not revealed.
Police were told the repeated abuse began in 1964 and lasted for at least seven years. They were also told the abuse included being molested and raped. The report did not say where the abuse occurred.
The person talked about coming forward in December because Sundie had access to younger relatives the person felt may be in danger of being abused, though they do not live with him, the report said.
Sheriff’s Office detectives conducted a controlled, monitored call between the person and suspect in January. What was said during that call and other details, including Sundie’s address, were redacted on Sundie’s arrest report.
A warrant was issued for Sundie’s arrest Wednesday and he was taken into custody the next day. Details of his interview were redacted from the report.
He posted part of his $100,000 bail and was released from jail. His arraignment is set for March 26.
Court records show the only other criminal charge against Sundie was solicitation for prostitution in 1987. He pleaded no contest and adjudication was withheld.
The State Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the case.
Rod Smith, former state attorney for Florida’s 8th Judicial Circuit, said prosecutors could face a number of challenges in such a case.
“I’m not going to say it can’t be done, but I’m not aware of any that happen that long ago,” Smith said of the gap from when the abuse was said to have happened to when charges were filed. “You have to ask why did the person come forward and why the delay. What was the event that triggered the recall.
“You have to ask was it delayed because of the subconscious denial that happens to a child victim or is this something that has come back to you a while ago and you decided not to move on it.”
Krista Flannigan, an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Florida State University and former Colorado prosecutor, said that a lack of evidence and witnesses in such a case could also make prosecution difficult.
Flannigan, whose prosecutions included sex-crime cases, said it also won’t be easy for the victim to relive what happened if the case goes to trial.
“Whether it happened a year ago or 50 years ago, you have to tell your story again and you have to tell it in public,” she said. “That is very traumatic for the victim.”
Jim Schoettler: (904) 359-4385