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Hillsborough County deputy at center of criminal sexual battery investigation

HCSO places deputy on unpaid administrative leave
Posted at 12:29 PM, Sep 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-27 18:37:04-04

HILLSBOROUGH CO., Fla. — A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputy is under a criminal sexual battery investigation, according to a search warrant uncovered by ABC Action News. The agency has placed the deputy under unpaid administrative leave while it investigates the allegations.

The warrant details serious allegations stemming from an August 23 incident. ABC Action News is not naming the deputy involved because he has not been charged with any crime.

According to the warrant, before 2 a.m. that morning the deputy, in full uniform and on-duty, transported a unnamed victim. The victim, the document says, was involved in a non-violent domestic incident with their boyfriend. In an effort to separate the two, the deputy drove the victim to their residence, a homeless camp in Tampa. The location is not specified in the warrant.

The deputy then parked his patrol car behind the camp. Their arrival was captured on surveillance footage. The deputy then checked the wooded area looking for the victim’s tent and went alone. According to the warrant, a video shows the deputy exiting the wooded area with his flashlight and heading back to his car at 2:01 a.m. The warrant says he then removed the victim from the backseat. At 2:02 a.m. the deputy turned all of the lights off on his patrol car. At 2:05 a.m. video shows the two walking together into the wooded area where they were gone for approximately three minutes. At 2:08 a.m. the deputy is seen on camera returning to his car alone, “it is unclear what actions he was taking while at the vehicle” reads the warrant.

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At 2:10 a.m. the deputy is seen walking back into the wooded area where he stayed until 2:15 a.m. At 2:17 a.m. he exited the parking lot in his patrol car. That’s as far as the surveillance video shows.

The warrant picks up from the victim’s account of what happened. It alleges the victim performed a sex act on him. The victim “reported the deputy did not force them to perform the act, but felt compelled to do so because he was in uniform.”

The warrant indicates DNA evidence was left behind at the campsite tied to this alleged sexual battery. The document indicates, “during this incident, the deputy was wearing the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office uniform of the day, which includes his white uniform shirt and green uniform pants. These items are believed to contain possible DNA evidence from the victim.”

During an interview between detectives and the deputy in question, the warrant indicates “his story was consistent with the version provided by the victim with the exception of the sex act.” The deputy denied the sex act occurred. The deputy also went on to admit watching the victim do sexual acts alone and told investigators he exited the wooded area and left the scene.

Four days after the alleged act, investigators arrived to the deputy’s Valrico home armed with a judge-signed search warrant. Inside the home they seized seven HCSO issued shirts and four pants.

We reached out to HCSO for an on-camera interview request, which the agency rejected citing the on-going criminal investigation. Sheriff Chad Chronister commented in an email statement about the allegations:

The allegations against the deputy are deeply disturbing, and they are being thoroughly investigated. At this time, an investigation is ongoing to determine if his actions are criminal. Once that is concluded, an internal investigation will follow to determine if he violated any Sheriff's Office policies or procedures. When the allegations were made, immediate action was taken. The deputy was placed on unpaid administrative leave, a status that he remains in at this time. When the Sheriff’s Office is at liberty to speak further on this investigation, additional details will be provided.
Sheriff Chad Chronister

ABC Action News removed the deputy's name from the Sheriff's statement because the deputy has not been charged. We also requested the employment history of this deputy, currently on unpaid administrative leave.

The deputy's attorney Ellis Faught gave us this statement: "He categorically denies any and all allegations of sexual battery that relates to him.”

Story developing, refresh for updates. Stay with ABC Action News for the latest.