Making an initial court appearance Saturday morning after being arrested in Orlando the day before on charges of sexual battery, bail for former Senator-At-Large Steven Payne has been set at $250,003, which he has been unable to post.
Instead, the Florida Bureau of Corrections said Payne would stay put until his transfer to Duval County, located in the northeastern part of the state, which has had an out-of-country warrant out for his arrest, though no one could say for how long.
Payne had been on St. Thomas attending a funeral and was apprehended after he arrived in Florida on a late flight out.
The Source was unable to reach the Ninth District’s Judicial Public Defender’s Office, which is currently representing Payne, or Duval County’s clerk’s office to confirm whether the charges stem from allegations made last summer by three women who said Payne had either sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them – one while she was a minor.
When detailing her experience, the young woman said that when she was 17, Payne had become her guardian after the living situation with her previous caregivers became tenuous. The instances of sexual assault allegedly started then and occurred more than once – including while Payne visited her while she was living in Jacksonville, Florida after relocating after Hurricane Irma struck in 2017.
Jacksonville is located in Duval County, but details on Payne’s arrest record Friday do not specify whether the circumstances are related.
The allegations against Payne – one from a member of his own staff – pushed both Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. and then-Senate President Donna Frett-Gregory to call for investigations, with Frett-Gregory convening a Committee on Ethics within the V.I. Legislature that eventually voted for Payne’s expulsion as a senator.
Only Payne himself, out of the 14-member body, voted against the ouster, which was announced in July 2022.