NEW PORT RICHEY — When Jami Hastings needed a memory card for a newly acquired used cellphone, she didn’t have to go shopping.
She had tucked away a memory card left behind months ago by a former employee of her ex-husband. The man had briefly lived with their family, staying in a spare bedroom.
Hastings wasn’t prepared for what she saw when she inserted the memory card in the phone, though.
Nude photographs of a 4-year-old girl popped up on her screen, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office reported, and in at least one photograph, a man was having sex with the girl.
Hastings said she knew the girl, the daughter of a neighbor in the apartment complex in Holiday where she lived. She also recognized the man. At one time, he was the girl’s babysitter, she said. He also was the man who had lived in her home for a month.
“It makes me sick to my stomach,” Hastings said.
Last week, Daniel Michael Vincent Colarusso, 28, formerly of Holiday, was arrested in Sarasota County on charges of sexual battery, promoting a sexual performance by a child, and multiple counts of possession, control or intentional viewing of child pornography, the sheriff’s office reported. Colarusso was initially held in jail in Sarasota, pending extradition to Pasco County, authorities said.
Colarusso became the 4-year-old girl’s babysitter in August 2012 by answering an advertisement the girl’s mother placed on Craigslist, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said at a Wednesday news conference.
“This little girl was innocent and this criminal took advantage of her,” Nocco said.
Detective Tony Bossone said the mother didn’t conduct a background check on Colarusso, and told investigators he said the right things when she interviewed him.
Colarusso had an arrest record on fraud charges and a child neglect case, but not for anything like what he is being charged with now, Bossone said. “The woman who brought him in did not know who she was bringing into her home,” he said.
Colarusso babysat the girl at her apartment for four months, from Aug. 1 to Nov. 30 in 2012, Bossone said.
Sometime after that, Colarusso was looking for work again. Hastings said her now ex-husband had a maintenance company and hired him. But Colarusso had no place to stay, she said.
“We allowed him to live in the extra bedroom we had while he was working,” she said.
One month later there was a falling out, though, and Colarusso moved out, Hastings said. She found the memory card while cleaning out a dresser Colarusso had used and held onto it just in case it ever came in handy.
One day it did and that’s when she discovered the photographs.
“I’m a mother so I was horrified,” Hastings said. “I was concerned a little for my children. I knew we had never left him alone with our girls. But I was very concerned because I knew that he had been alone with this child.”