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Deputy accused by a prostitute

Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is investigating allegations that a deputy inappropriately touched and took nude pictures of at least one prostitute and possibly several others while on duty, department officials and sources said.

The deputy is a married man and 20-year veteran assigned to the Orange County Transportation Authority, which contracts with the sheriff for patrol services, according to sources who are familiar with the investigation but are not authorized to speak publicly about the probe.

Some of the prostitutes were working along Harbor Boulevard in Santa Ana and Garden Grove, sources said. Although there was inappropriate touching involved, at this stage of the investigation there appears to be no evidence of sexual contact, they said.

Sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation and said the deputy’s name is being withheld under the Peace Officers Bill of Rights.

The deputy has been interviewed by the Internal Affairs Division and placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation. He could be charged with felony sexual battery and false imprisonment and possibly other charges, Amormino said.

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The department was tipped off to the alleged misconduct this month by a prostitute who reported that the deputy had her sit in his patrol car, then drove to a secluded area where the alleged misconduct took place, said Amormino.

The department is exchanging information with at least three other law enforcement agencies because of overlapping jurisdictions.

Investigators searched the deputy’s home, car, locker and work bag, and seized his computers, cameras and other equipment, Amormino said. Images of several females in provocative poses were found. Two prostitutes in the pictures have been identified, and investigators are trying to locate other women in the photographs, Amormino said.

“It’s unfortunate when someone in the position of authority tarnishes the badge because it affects everyone in law enforcement,” Amormino said. “But we hire from the human race.”

Sheriff Michael S. Carona said that when the investigation is complete, the findings will be submitted to prosecutors for possible criminal charges.

“We take these allegations seriously and are working to complete our investigation,” Carona said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Department Sex Crimes Unit at (714) 647-7419 or the watch commander after hours at (714) 628-7170.

christine.hanley@latimes.com


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