Petting zoo settles lawsuit with Shoals families in sex abuse case

FLORENCE, Ala. – A horrifying chapter in the lives of six families has been closed this week. Just weeks after an alleged child predator pleaded guilty to inappropriately touching young girls, the families have settled a civil lawsuit.

The saga began two years ago in the parking lot of a shopping center in Florence. Six young girls, all under the age of 12, told their parents a man working at the petting zoo groped them.

Daryl Raymond

Florence police were immediately notified of the alleged incidents and Jungle Safari agreed to close. 50-year-old Daryl Raymond, an employee of Jungle Safari, was arrested.

At the time, investigators said Raymond sexually abused the six girls while they were on a pony ride. During 2016, Raymond was indicted and then slapped with a civil lawsuit. Jungle Safari and the shopping center owners were also named in the suit, filed on behalf of the families of the six victims.

More than a year passed without much going on in the cases. With trial approaching in the criminal case, Raymond pleaded guilty in February to two counts of attempted sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12. Earlier this month he was sentenced to two 10-year sentences, split with two years to serve in prison on each count.

Attorneys representing the families in the civil lawsuit say an agreement has been reached. As part of the settlement, Jungle Safari has agreed to no longer do business in Florence or the surrounding area. Attorneys for the families also state Jungle Safari admitted to not doing a background check on Daryl Raymond before hiring him. They would have found a history of assault.

As far as restitution being paid out by Jungle Safari, the six cases settled for an undisclosed amount of money. Hopefully, the families can now move on to healing.

Raymond is currently being processed into the Alabama prison system.  After serving four years, he will have to register as a sex offender.