Police: Polk Co. deputy arrested, tried to lure teen

Deputy Mark Hicks accused of sending lewd texts

BARTOW, Fla. – Bartow police said they received information Thursday night about a man sending lewd images and messages to a 17-year-old girl.

Through their investigation, detectives learned the victim had visited 40-year-old Mark Hicks, a Polk County deputy that resigned residence on or about Aug. 7.

Police said Hicks touched the girl outside of her clothing without her consent and she was able to get away and leave his home.

Later that day and during the following day, police said Hicks used a cell phone to send lewd messages to the victim to include images of his torso and penis.

In turn, Hicks asked the victim to send him "a pic of herself." The girl believed this to be images which were sexual in nature, police said.

Police were able to get in contact with Hicks at his home where he was told about the investigation.

Hicks confessed to kissing and hugging the victim, as well as sending the lewd images to her, according to police.

While Hicks was in a holding cell, police said he knew there would be a cell check in 10 minutes.

Police said Hicks quickly took the waistband from his boxer shorts and fashioned a noose, which he tied to the cell door and attempted to hang himself.

Six minutes after last checking on Hicks, police found Hicks and immediately began life saving measures, police said.

Police said Hicks was transported to Bartow Regional Medical Center where he was medically cleared.

Captain Stewart obtained Hicks' immediate resignation. Hicks was taken to the Polk County Jail, police said.

At the time of the alleged incident, Hicks' assignment was as a patrol deputy in the Central District.

Hicks was also arrested in 2004 for a misdemeanor contempt of court, violation of injunction charge resulting from a child custody dispute. This arrest was later no-billed and Hicks was awarded custody of his biological children in December 2005, police said.