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Florence Man Arrested on Rape Charges Involving 13-Year Old

A man was arrested Wednesday after allegedly providing marijuana to a 13-year old girl in exchange for sexual acts.

Tyreecse M. Merritt, 22, of Florence, was arrested on three counts of human trafficking, three counts of second degree rape, five counts of second degree sodomy, and three counts of unlawful transaction with a minor.

According to the Boone County Sheriff's Office, Merritt was introduced to the girl earlier this year when he began selling her marijauna.

A news release from the sheriff's office said, "Their relationship quickly became sexual and they both claimed to care for one another. Merritt would also provide marijuana to the victim in exchange for sexual acts. During the course of their relationship, Merritt raped and sodomized the victim multiple times."

Merritt, deputies said, admitting to having "a thriving drug operation" with a clientele that is typically between the ages of 13 and 16.

Merritt told detectives that he prefers to surround himself with females of this age group and that he has also had sexual contact with some of them, according to a news release.

Merritt was lodged at the Boone County Detention Center and is being held on a $500,000 bond. 

-Staff report

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