FORT LAUDERDALE — A Broward County Sheriff’s deputy was arrested Tuesday after he was accused of sending sexually charged texts to a 17-year-old girl he met while on duty and responding to a domestic violence call, authorities said.
Deputy Jemiah Thomas, 35, was taken into custody following an investigation by the department over his alleged interactions with a teen girl, Sheriff Gregory Tony said during an afternoon news conference.
He said Thomas has been suspended without pay, pending the investigation and its outcome.
It was the second time in 12 days that the sheriff had to announce thefollowing allegations of wrong doing by his workers.
“Once again we’re in the position where we had to arrest one of our own,” Tony said. “Not something we’re proud of.”
Thomas, who has been a Broward deputy for six years, is facing a number of charges, including the use of a computer to lure a child, traveling to meet after using a computer to lure a child and attempted lewd and lascivious solicitation.
The sheriff said the accused deputy was called in September to a domestic violence call where he apparently met the victim.
“In this particular case, you got a deputy out here who did nothing more than take advantage,” Tony said. “Take advantage of his powers, abuse his authorities and solicit, sexual solicitation of a minor.”
The visibly agitated sheriff likened the deputy to being a “sexual predator” as he told reporters about the case.
Tony said the department received a tip from the girl’s father about the actions of the deputy, who allegedly exchanged phone numbers with the victim after he first met her on the call for help.
The deputy then tried to meet with the girl and sent her pictures of his penis while communication with the girl, according to the sheriff.
Tony said it was not clear if the deputy had been accused of wrong doing in the past. But he said the charges will be insurmountable.
“There’s no coming back from this,” Tony said. “If you think you’re going to manipulate a 17-year-old girl into sex, you’re going to be gone.”
Following the arrest, the president of the International Union of Police Associations issued a statement.
“We are only privy to the charges brought against him and not the details of the investigation. The alleged charges, if true, are extremely concerning and unacceptable. The facts of the investigation will come out in court where ultimately a jury of Thomas’s peers will review the evidence and make a determination of guilt or innocence,” said IUPA. Local 6020 President Matt Cowart in the statement.
He added that Thomas is innocent until proven guilty and “shall be awarded his due process through the courts.”
It’s the second black eye for the sheriff’s department this month.
On Oct. 12, federal investigators and Tonyaccused of fraud while trying to take advantage of COVID-19 pandemic relief programs.
In that case, investigators said the suspects allegedly received $495,171 in assistance unlawfully and used the proceeds to unjustly enrich themselves.