The Pasco County Sheriff's Office is investigating one of its own for child abuse.
A complaint filed on March 17 says Ryan Robert Ferguson, 29, "intentionally and willfully committed a battery upon the victim," a seven-year-old girl on March 13.
The child, not identified by name, told investigators Ferguson put liquid soap in her month as a punishment for lying, then threw her onto a couch and slapped her buttocks over and over again.
She said Ferguson pulled her off the couch, dropped her onto the tile floor and started hitting her face with "an open and closed hand," reads the complaint affidavit. The assault continued, said the victim, with choking and more blows.
A medical examine confirmed her injuries were consistent with the victim's description of events. Her brother, age 4, said he witnessed Ferguson striking the girl.
The affidavit, quoting the doctor, says the injuries are "without a doubt from a violent and severe beating about the face as well as choking which is exactly as the victim reported it occurred."
Ferguson explained her injuries as the result of a shopping cart falling on the girl. The doctor said the injuries were not consistent with a shopping cart accident.
"Justice needs to be done for the child that he abused," said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco.
Nocco said as soon as the department learned about the investigation, they arrested Ferguson and fired him.
"This poor child, what they went through, and that;s why we have no mercy for anybody, whether they have been a law enforcement officer or not," Nocco said. "Justice will be served against him."
Nocco said there have been previous problems with Ferguson on the job. ABC Action News looked into his work history with the Pasco County Sheriff's Department and found Ferguson has a record of leaving his post, taking too long of breaks and making personal calls on company time.