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Ex-Alachua County deputy accused of holding girlfriend captive

Arrest marks Joseph Sperring's third since December 2016

File photo
File photo

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A former Alachua County deputy with a history of legal trouble was arrested Saturday on allegations that he choked his girlfriend, held her captive for six hours and threatened to kill her if she went to the police.

Joseph Clayton Sperring, 29, of Gainesville, has been released from the Alachua County jail after posting $155,000 bond on domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment, witness tampering and simple battery charges, jail logs show.

The charges stem from a complaint filed by the victim, who showed up Friday morning at the Gainesville Police Department. She told police she had been held against her will overnight by Sperring, whom she’d been dating for two weeks.

According to an arrest report, the ordeal began about 2 a.m. Friday as the couple got home from a date. She said Sperring accused her of cheating and kicked her out. But as she was leaving, she said he carried her back inside where he pushed her against a wall and choked her.

She said he took away her phone and car keys, told her she wasn’t allowed to leave and covered her mouth when she cried out for help. “The (victim) advised that she believed (Sperring) was going to kill her and felt like she was being held hostage,” an officer noted in his report.

At one point, she said, Sperring told her he was “going to rape her” when she resisted his advances. When she was finally allowed to leave about 8:45 a.m., he warned her that he would have someone kill her and her family if she went to the police, according to the report.

A search of Alachua County court records shows Saturday’s arrest is Sperring’s third in 26 months. 

Records show he was previously arrested in July 2017 after his then-girlfriend accused him of putting a gun in his mouth and threatening to kill her before turning the gun on himself. Aggravated assault and simple battery charges were dropped a month later due to “insufficient evidence.”

Sperring was also arrested in December 2016 on suspicion of driving under the influence and leaving the scene of a crash after police said he struck another vehicle while leaving a night club and then drove away. He refused a breath test and that case too was later dismissed.