Niceville woman with CIC and ECCAC connection accused of sexually abusing girl

Northwest Florida Daily News/USA TODAY NETWORK

NICEVILLE — A woman arrested Tuesday on charges of sexually abusing a young child had served as a board member at a local organization dedicated to helping child abuse victims.

OCSO deputies served two warrants on Katrina Puri, 50, of Niceville, on Tuesday morning, one for lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim less than 12 years old and the other for lewd and lascivious exhibition on a victim less than 16.

Puri is accused of abusing a then 5-year-old victim over a seven-month period in 2018, according to an Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office arrest report.

Katrina Puri

A caregiver had reported noticing redness on the child during bath time as well as observing the child exhibiting sexual behaviors. The victim told the caregiver, and subsequently investigators, that Puri touched her inappropriately on a number of occasions, sometimes when she was clothed and sometimes when she was not, the release said.

During an interview Puri denied any sexual abuse took place.

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According to Daily News archives, Puri had long worked with at-risk children in the community, including hosting holiday events for children in the foster care system.

Puri was a weekly volunteer for Children In Crisis from 2011 to 2015 and was recognized by CIC as an exceptional volunteer. Puri also served as a guardian ad litem during part of that time.

In 2018, she joined the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center’s board of directors. The volunteer board members can serve up to two three-year terms, according to ECCAC's website. Puri is not listed as a member of the 2020-2021 board.

Representatives of ECCAC could not be immediately reached Tuesday afternoon for comment on Puri's arrest.

The 2018 announcement of Puri's appointment to the ECCAC board noted that she had been fostering children for five years.

When she joined ECCAC in 2018, Puri said she considered it her personal mission to help change the lives of abused and neglected children.

“I have a passion for fostering and mentoring kids who are in abusive situations with no one to help or listen to them,” Puri said in a statement at the time. “My vision is to give children a glimmer of hope. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work with the ECCAC Board.”