"Heartbreaking, disturbing, disgusting and infuriating" were the terms Sheriff Javier Salazar used to describe the details of the case after one of his deputies was arrested for "super aggravated sexual assault of a child." The term "super" refers to the girl's extremely young age: just four years old.
The charge is a first-class felony and carries a minimum sentence of 25 years behind bars.
Police investigators believe that the sexual assault of the girl "goes back several months," but say that it could go as far back as a couple of years. "As you know, a child of this age, timelines are hard to reconstruct," the sheriff said.
"Here's another heartbreaking aspect of this case," the sheriff told reporters. "The mother of this little girl is an undocumented immigrant and my understanding is that this suspect utilized that to his advantage, to place the mother in fear that she would be deported if she did report it."
The sheriff's office is in the process of completing paperwork to make sure that the mother is given protected status "pending the outcome of this case."
The relationship between the woman and the accused deputy is a "familial" one, the sheriff said. "And we also have reason to believe there may have been other children that were related to this suspect and may have had contact with him."
The officer has been placed on administrative leave, the first 10 days of which will be paid, likely due to his contract with the department. "My objective is to separate this person from the agency as soon as possible," Salazar said, adding that in such situations where an officer disgraces his department, he'd "cut them out like a cancer."