Deputy accused of sexual battery against minor who was part of sheriff training program
10/20/2022 2:06 pm PDT
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (TCD) -- A deputy has been arrested and charged after allegedly engaging in sexual activity with a minor who was part of the Sheriff’s Office Explorer Program.
On Oct. 18 at approximately 9:30 a.m., Matthew Anderson, 21, was taken into custody for sexual battery against the 17-year-old victim and Explorer member, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
According to WMBB-TV, the Sheriff’s Office Explorer Program is intended to train young people who are interested in a career in law enforcement.
During an interview, Anderson reportedly confessed to five to seven sexual acts with the victim, some of which happened while he was working. Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford told WMBB the sexual encounters happened from June to October 2022.
The Sheriff’s Office said Anderson was booked into the Bay County Jail and charged with sexual battery: person in custodial authority. He has since been placed on unpaid leave.
Ford will reportedly meet with other Explorers’ parents to discuss the matter and answer any questions.
In a statement, Ford said, "It breaks my heart to know the damage that these actions have caused our kids in the program."
Ford continued, "I stand behind the leadership of the Jr. Deputy and Explorer Program for all of the good work that they have done with the kids in this program, and as they work to rebuild the trust of the parents and kids. We will not let the actions of one person destroy the many positive successes of this program."
Anderson was also reportedly part of the Explorer Program when he was younger and had worked for the Bay County Sheriff’s Office since July 2019.
Ford told WMBB, "He came up through that program, which is all the more heartbreaking because we have had many great success stories of people that came up through that program and got interested in law enforcement and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and have gone on to become great deputies and leaders in this organization."
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