By Leah Banks

TYRONE — A Palmetto man is behind bars this week on child molestation charges.

On Thursday, the Tyrone Police Department arrested Johnny Stephens, 21, on charges of child molestation and aggravated child molestation.

According to Tyrone Police spokesperson Phillip Nelson, the case was originally brought to their attention by the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) on April 3, 2022.

The foster care system called the department regarding a suspected child molestation case and was searching for answers.

Nelson said Stephens is a family member and lived in the home with the child at the time of the alleged abuse, and the child was eventually removed from the home.

The alleged incident is said to have occurred in 2018, when Stephens was 19 years old and the victim was at the age of 6.

According to Nelson, the victim gave information of the alleged incident to an art therapist, who in turn, gave the information to DFCS.

When the police department received the call, officers conducted a forensic interview with the victim where she was able to provide information on the incident.

“Given that the victim was underage, there is a very specific way that we must go about the interview process. We call in an organization named Southern Crescent and they help with the interview process,” Nelson said.