Ex-deputy in Florida faces prison in sex case

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Walter Michael Thomas on trial in Escambia County (WEAR-TV image)

PENSACOLA, Fla. - A former Florida Panhandle sheriff's deputy is facing up to 45 years in prison following his conviction on sex charges involving a 16-year-old girl.

An Escambia County jury last week found 45-year-old Walter Michael Thomas guilty of three counts of unlawful sex with a minor. Thomas will be sentenced in September.

The Pensacola News Journal reported that Thomas and two other adults engaged in group sex with the underage girl in 2014. The other two adults testified against Thomas, who denied the charges in his own testimony.

A second former deputy, Mark Gene Smith, is also accused of committing sexual offenses on a juvenile with the same two adults. Smith has pleaded not guilty and his trial date has not yet been set.

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