Rob Lopicola, a West Palm Beach, Florida resident best known for his former role as a weatherman on WPTV, has been arrested after authorities accused him of maintaining sexual relationships with two teenage boys, according to news reports. Lopicola was booked into Broward County Jail yesterday on one count each of unlawful sexual activity with certain minors, lewd and lascivious battery, computer pornography and child exploitation. He attended an initial hearing today, at which he was denied bail bond. It is not yet known whether he has retained a private criminal defense attorney.
According to news reports, Lopicola was apprehended for the alleged sex offenses after an investigation involving the U.S. Marshals and the State Attorney’s Office as well as the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and West Palm Beach and Farmington Hills Police departments. The investigation was reportedly triggered when one of the victims, who had moved to Michigan, came forward to repot the abuse. The other victim also eventually came forward.
The joint efforts eventually revealed that Lopicola had engaged in sexual activity with the two underage boys, sources indicate. Both relationships allegedly started when Lopicola posted Craigslist personal ads. It appears as though both teens, whose identities have been protected due to their ages and the nature of the crimes, cooperated with detectives and gave testimony. Other evidence in the case include text messages and photos that Lopicola allegedly exchanged with the teens, some of which are included in the probable cause affidavit.
The first victim, who was reportedly 15 when he and Lopicola first made contact, purportedly alleged that Lopicola had posted a Craigslist personal ad from a male seeking a male partner. The boy reportedly told investigators that he contacted Lopicola and told Lopicola that he was 18. However, the teen claimed that he eventually told Lopicola how old he really was and that Lopicola responded by stating “14 to 16 years old is perfect baby.” The teen purportedly told detectives that he told Lopicola about his high school and that Lopicola was perfectly aware of his status as a minor.
News reports indicate that the probable cause affidavit accuses Lopicola of requesting and sending nude photos and exchanging sexually charged text messages with the boy for over a year. The pair allegedly ended up meeting a few times, including one instance when Lopicola allegedly performed oral sex on the teen.
The second incident, according to the press, was similar to the first. Lopicola stands accused of posing a Craigslist personal ad in which he claimed he was 18 and looking for a male partner. Another 15-year-old male responded to the ad, lying and telling Lopicola he was 16. However, Lopicola allegedly discovered the teen’s real age, which authorities claim did not deter him from contacting the boy, sending him illicit photos and texts, and eventually engaging in sexual activity, including oral sex, with him. Again, it is not clear how many times Lopicola is accused of meeting with the teen, nor is it clear how long the relationship allegedly lasted.