The Idaho State Police is investigating whether a Bonner County sheriff’s deputy had sex with an underage girl in Boundary County, according to a North Idaho sheriff and the general counsel for an organization that insures Idaho government agencies.
Boundary County Sheriff Greg Sprungl said the deputy lives in Boundary County, along with several other Bonner County deputies who commute daily in their patrol cars.
“I just know that it (the incident) took place, my understanding is, in Boundary County,” Sprungl said. “The prosecutor’s aware of it. He’s aware an investigation is under way, and a report will be forthcoming.”
Boundary County Prosecutor Jack Douglas, Bonner County Sheriff Elaine Savage, and Undersheriff Charlie Dennis did not return calls seeking comment. Bonner County sheriff’s Lt. Marcus Robbins said Savage was out of town and Dennis was injured. Robbins would not comment on the investigation other than to say there are three sheriff’s deputies currently on administrative leave. He would not say why and he would not confirm that the investigation was taking place.
Sprungl said the deputy is alleged to have had sex with a girl under the age of 18, the age of consent in Idaho. The deputy in question is a past employee of both Boundary and Kootenai counties’ sheriff’s departments, he added.
Idaho State Police Capt. Clark Rollins, who heads up the ISP’s investigations unit, said he could not comment on an ongoing investigation, but that a report would be issued upon its completion.
David Sasser, general counsel for Idaho Counties Risk Management Program, which insures Bonner County and numerous other state agencies, said the ISP is investigating whether a crime was committed.
“My understanding is that there is a criminal investigation to determine whether or not a Bonner County deputy had sex with a minor 17-year-old girl,” Sasser said, explaining that his agency insures the county and would provide legal representation in the event of a lawsuit. “If they get sued over it, we’ll be the ones who hire the lawyers.”
Sasser added that sexual misconduct by law enforcement and corrections officers is a growing national problem. At state and national meetings he attends, the issue is “always on the front burner.”
“It’s a national epidemic of improper conduct,” Sasser said. “There’s a problem.”
Recently, a Spokane firefighter resigned after revelations that he had sex with a 16-year-old girl at a fire station, and a Ferry County sheriff’s deputy is being investigated for alleged sexual conduct with teenage boys. Last July, a Priest River firefighter was arrested and charged with raping a 16-year-old girl who participated in the city’s Junior Firefighter program.
Sasser said improper sexual conduct by law enforcement officials led to Congress’ passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act in 2003. It was enacted to address the problem of “sexual abuse of persons in the custody of U.S. correctional agencies,” according to the National Institute of Corrections Web site.
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