Aug. 15 update: Sam Andolina finally booked out of the Flagler County jail today (Aug. 15) at 1:23 p.m. to begin serving his probation on a conviction for molestation involving an underage autistic girl. Circuit Judge Terence Perkins was ready to sentence him to 10 years of probation two months ago–a surprisingly lenient sentence, compared to many harsher sentences involving similar circumstances–but Andolina voluntarily stayed at the county jail an extra two months. He urged his public defender, Bill Bookhammer, to ask the judge to let him stay at the jail because he did not have a place to live back then. If he had been released, Andolina feared he would have inevitably been in a position to violate his probation one way or the other. Perkins agreed to keep him in jail until he had found a place.
Andolina appeared in court a half dozen times since, but it was only on Wednesday that he could tell the judge that he had secured a residence. Andolina will be allowed to return to Lee County for a day, an exception to his probation order, to pick up belongings. He is to serve his sex-offender probation in Flagler for the next 10 years. He has been fitted with a GPS ankle monitor. The previous story is below.
June 17–For sex offenders, a degree of confinement–and sometimes continued incarceration–doesn’t end when a jail term ends: state and local laws passed in the 1990s, restricting where sex offenders may or may not live, at times make it difficult for individuals to be safe from re-arrest anywhere but under bridge overpasses or, in the case of Palm Coast’s Sam Andolina, by remaining at the Flagler County jail.
Circuit Judge Terence Perkins, the prosecutor and the defense were all ready for Andolina’s sentencing this morning. But since Andolina was designated a sex offender, he is prohibited from living within 2,000 feet of any church, school, day care center, public park or other places where children gather. He’s been looking for a place to live for weeks from jail. He’s been unsuccessful. Today, Perkins, at Andolina’s own defense lawyer’s urging, agreed to delay the official sentencing so Andolina would not have to be released, thus giving him more time to look for a place. It is one of the more extreme local examples of the effect of residency restrictions on sex offenders, restrictions that have been shown not to be effective–or have the opposite of their intended effect.
Andolina’s offense is grave. He was arrested in 2018 on charges of raping and molesting a 13-year-old autistic girl, and charged with a first-degree and a second-degree felony. The girl he allegedly raped was the daughter of the woman to whom Andolina was engaged, and with whom he’d been living for five years. She had three daughters.
His arrest report describes a manipulative Andolina, 39, placing the girl at his sexual mercy and violating her in various ways. He allegedly did not use force. To keep the victim quiet, he told her that if she told, she’d be restricted from her iPad for up to 15 years. She in turn worried about telling on him because she did not want to mess up her mother’s marriage plans with Andolina. “If you want your mom and I to get married,” he’d told her, “you can’t tell her.” In explanations to the girl’s mother, blaming the girl for making sexual moves on him, a common tactic by sex offenders. In a deposition, the victim’s sister described her as “selfless, like, 100 percent selfless. Like, she’ll do–she’s a people-pleaser. Whatever it takes to make you happy.”
With the two charges combined, Andolina faced up to 50 years in prison. The case was moving to trial in May. On May 28, Andolina was scheduled for dociek sounding, the last step before trial. Instead, he pleaded: the sex-battery, or rape, charge, was dropped. He pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious molestation on a victim younger than 16. He was still facing the potential of a 15-year prison term. Instead, the plea is for 10 years’ sex-offender probation, and a lifetime designation as a sex offender.
Restrictions would normally have included no access to the web. He is getting a dispensation: he may access the web for work purposes, though not for social media. Restrictions also usually include no contact with minors. He’s getting a dispensation on that as well so he can have supervised contact with two biological children.
That was to be Andolina’s sentence this morning when he stood before Perkins, his attorney, Bill Bookhammer, next to him.
“Mr. Andolina still does not have a residence, he’s been looking and looking and does not at this point have an address,” Bookhammer told the judge. Andolina has been at the Flagler County jail since mid-September, on no bond. “If he is to be released he would have no place to go. The local motel here in Bunnell no longer qualifies as acceptable housing because they put a local daycare nearby, so he has nowhere to go.” Bookhammer said it would be at least a few weeks before he could find a place (assuming no local property manager or Realtor volunteered a location).
Bookhammer gave the judge two options: Delay the sentencing, thus enabling Andolina to remain in jail but also setting a certain sentencing date, or sentence him and return him to jail anyway. “The second one creates an indefinite incarceration and that concerns me,” Bookhammer said, “because he could literally remain there for months and months and months.”
The judge was also concerned about that possibility. He told Andolina to keep looking, and to immediately inform the court the moment he finds a place. “We can literally bring you over the next day, enter the plea and go on from there,” Perkins told Andolina.
His next sentencing date was set for June 25, but would be cancelled if Andolina doesn’t have a place. “I want to keep it on a short leash just so we know we’re watching it,” the judge said.
At the time when Andolina’s ex-fiancee threw him out, he went to Cape Coral to live with his parents. It was there that he was arrested by Cape Coral police on Sept. 6, 2018, then extradited. But his probation terms require him to remain in Flagler, absent further court proceedings and formal permission to live elsewhere.