Putnam County youth resource deputy arrested, charged with custodial sexual battery

Arrest made years after initial allegation surfaced in 2018, which at time couldn’t be substantiated, Sheriff DeLoach says

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – A now former Putnam County youth resource deputy was arrested Monday on charges related to an alleged sexual relationship with a student of a local school, according to Sheriff Gator DeLoach.

The sheriff said Joshua Robert Herren was arrested and charged with custodial sexual battery, a first-degree felony, and two counts of unlawful sex with certain minors, a second-degree felony, and one count of an authority figure engaging in lewd conduct with students.

DeLoach said the Sheriff’s Office previously received information regarding an inappropriate relationship between the deputy and a juvenile. He said a criminal investigation was initiated but that anonymous claims could not be substantiated.

“We were unable to locate anyone who could say the anonymous information was accurate, and the victim stated that no such relationship took place,” DeLoach said. “The victim has now (come) forward and disclosed that the allegations were in fact true and that Herren was engaged in a sexual relationship with a student.”

The sheriff said that the student, now an adult, came forward on Nov. 13 and confirmed that a sexual relationship did take place. He said a new criminal investigation was ordered. According to DeLoach, a day later, Herren was called to be interviewed. The Sheriff said when Herren learned of the allegations, he declined to be interviewed, left the building and contacted his captain to resign.

According to the arrest report, Herren and the girl, who was 15 at the time the relationship began, had sex multiple times. Prior to the sexual encounters, investigators said, they communicated via social media. The report states that Herren took pictures and videos of the girl with his cellphone and then sent her the images via a fake Instagram account. The report also says the two exchanged sexual images.

It’s unclear what school the youth resource deputy was assigned to. DeLoach made clear that the Sheriff’s Office is protecting the identity of the person who came forward under Marcy’s Law and that no additional information would be given that could jeopardize that.

“Herren began his employment here as a deputy with the Sheriff’s Office in approximately 2016 and has received no prior discipline,” DeLoach said. “Our hearts are broken for the victim in this case, and we pray this arrest may be the next step in the healing process for them.”

“Herren does not represent the law enforcement community any longer and is a disgrace to our profession,” DeLoach added. “I’m personally disgusted that he once wore the same uniform we all do.”

Superintendent Rick Surrency, with the Putnam County School District, attended the news conference. He said while school resource deputies are not employees of the district, both work closely to ensure the safety of students and staff.

“This incident upsets me terribly as it does not meet the high standards that we set for our public employees who serve our schools and our communities,” he said.

DeLoach said there was a “multitude of physical evidence” in the case. He added that the first allegation surfaced in approximately 2018. Authorities asked anyone with additional information to come forward, but DeLoach noted when asked that the it was just “one victim that we’re aware of.”

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