GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Detectives on Thursday arrested an Alachua County Sheriff's Office deputy accused of having a yearslong sexual relationship with a teenage girl.
Deputy William Arnold was taken into custody and booked into the Alachua County jail.
Arnold, 49, is charged with lewd and lascivious battery and unlawful sexual activity with a minor, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The Sheriff's Office said the arrest followed a report received late Wednesday afternoon alleging an ongoing, unlawful relationship with a minor. The Sheriff's Office said a parallel internal investigation began immediately, specifically into violations of agency policy regarding personal conduct.
According to an arrest report, a girl, who is now 17, said that she and Arnold had been in a sexual relationship since she was 14 years old. She said there had been at least 10 incidents over the last three to four years, according to the arrest report.
The arrest report states she said the most recent incident happened last month when Arnold messaged her while she was at school, saying that he was having a "tough time," and she asked her mom to contact the school to allow her to check out. She left the school, drove to a church in Alachua where she met Arnold and then they went to his house where they had sex, according to the arrest report.
The teen said that she recently emailed him that she no longer wanted to have contact with him.
According to the arrest report, Arnold said he had known the girl for about three years and considers her a family friend. He acknowledged the victim would stay long periods of time at his house, but nothing physical ever happened other than "horseplay," and when asked directly about sexual activity, he denied it, the arrest report states.
"The impact of these allegations on the victim and their family must come first, but I am shocked and saddened to hear an employee could make such choices in their personal life," Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell said. "There are specific, statutory details and requirements in cases like these, and we've made an arrest based on probable cause."
According to the Sheriff's Office, Arnold was hired in 2006 and was assigned to the Patrol Support Division at the time of his arrest. He has been placed on administrative suspension.