GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – The Green Cove Springs Police Department announced Saturday that it arrested a Clay County deputy on a charge of lewd battery on a minor.
The 15-year-old victim’s mother alerted Green Cove Springs police on Tuesday that she believed her daughter had been sneaking Clay County Deputy Travis Pritchard into the family’s home late at night to have sex, police said.
According to a news release from Clay County Sheriff Daniels (statement below), Travis was terminated.
Green Cove Springs officers said they spoke with the underage victim and found cellphone evidence of the relationship. They also learned the 36-year-old deputy had originally met the girl near Clay High School and believe that the sexual relationship had gone on for several months, according to the report.
Green Cove Springs detectives then posed as the victim which led to more incriminating messages by the deputy, the report said.
The 36-year-old was arrested early Saturday morning as detectives said he was attempting to meet the girl to have sex again. Police said Pritchard was on duty at the time.
Detectives said there’s evidence Pritchard knew the victim was a minor and told her to keep their sexual encounters a secret.
Pritchard was a DUI enforcement deputy. In 2019, he spoke to News4Jax about new stuffed animals the department received to help comfort children involved in car wrecks.
He worked for the Sheriff’s Office for more than a decade, receiving the 2015 Sheriff John P. Hall Sr. Memorial Law Enforcement Award.
During the investigation, detectives said they gathered evidence that Pritchard was having inappropriate contact with other underage minors. They are now investigating to see if there are other victims.
News4Jax stopped by Pritchard’s listed address on Monday and found no one home.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said he was not surprised that the investigation started after messages were found on the girl’s phone.
“These kinds of crimes are generally reported by a parent or another relative of the victim because the victim generally tells them something or a family member finds something such as text messages or letters being handwritten. Some kind of way they’ll find out,” Jefferson said.
Green Cove Springs police ask anyone with more information on this case or other possible victims to call them at 904-297-7300.
A statement from Sheriff Daniels reads in part:
“If found guilty by the courts, this former deputy, Travis Pritchard, will have a long time to reflect on his actions. Effective today (Saturday), I made the decision to terminate his employment with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office... The men and women of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office remain committed to making Clay County a safe place to live; that will never change!”