St. Lucie County Sheriff Mascara announces arrest of deputy for sexual battery by a police officer, requests other victims to contact Sheriff's Office
St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara today announced the arrest of a three-year patrol deputy, Matthew Morris, for sexual battery by a police officer and official misconduct, two felonies.
The Sheriff said there may be other victims and asked anyone with information, or anyone who has been a victim, to call Sheriff's detectives at 772-462-3230.
"I promise this community that we will fully and impartially investigate any and all such incidents," Sheriff Mascara said.
Morris, 33, was jailed this afternoon without bond pending a Wednesday morning county court hearing during which he will participate from a secure area of the St. Lucie County jail equipped with a two-way video link to a courtroom at the county courthouse in downtown Fort Pierce.
He has been placed on administrative leave without pay pending the resolution of the criminal charges he now faces.
Morris had previously received a two-day suspension after an altercation with an umpire at a Little League baseball game. He also received counselling over his participation in serving an arrest warrant in which he and a fellow deputy incorrectly told the person at the address they went to that his name was on the warrant. He was not the suspect named in the warrant.
Sheriff Mascara described the victim, whose identity is protected by state law, as entirely credible in her account of the events of early Sunday morning, when the investigation revealed that Morris forced the victim to give him oral sex behind Fort Pierce Elementary School, at Tenth Street and Delaware Avenue, Fort Pierce.
The Sheriff said Morris early this afternoon was taken to jail by members of the "agency he has dishonored by his actions."
Sheriff Mascara thanked the Fort Pierce Police Department for its professionalism in its handling of the incident, which the victim described early Tuesday morning to a Fort Pierce police officer. After that, the woman was taken to Sheriff's Office detective offices, where the Sheriff's Office's investigation began by taking a detailed statement from her.
The Sheriff also thanked the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office which sent an Assistant State Attorney to the Sheriff's Office this morning to participate in the discussion about the criminal charges and other legal details.
The Sheriff said, "I want to assure the people of St. Lucie County that I will not tolerate misconduct or lawlessness by any member of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office."
He also said, "The actions of Matthew Morris are a stain on the honor and good name of every member of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, including me."
Here is the statement Sheriff Mascara made at an afternoon news conference:
I am saddened to stand before you this afternoon to announce the arrest of Matthew Morris, age 33, for sexual battery by a law enforcement officer, a first-degree felony, and official misconduct, a third-degree felony.
Matthew Morris has been a St. Lucie County Deputy Sheriff for three years who was assigned to the Uniform Patrol Division. He is now confined at the St. Lucie County jail where he was taken this afternoon by members of this agency, the agency he has dishonored by his actions.
He also has been placed on administrative leave without pay pending the resolution of the criminal charges against him.
We will provide you with copies of his arrest affidavit, jail booking photo and reports of two previous occasions when the Sheriff's Office disciplined him. At the conclusion of this news conference, you will have an opportunity to examine Matthew Morris' personnel file.
We have collected his badge, weapons, uniforms and Sheriff's Office identification.
An Assistant State Attorney came to our offices this morning to participate in the determination of charges and the preparation of the arrest affidavit. I want to thank the State Attorney's Office for its help on this case.
Before I describe the events that led to the arrest, I want to tell you that there is the possibility that there are additional victims.
I urge anyone with information, including any person who may have been victimized by Matthew Morris, to call our detective offices at 772-462-3230. I promise this community that we will fully and impartially investigate any and all such incidents.
According to our investigation, in the early morning hours of Sunday, while he was on duty as a Uniform Patrol Deputy, Matthew Morris forced a woman who lives in Fort Pierce to perform oral sex on him. This took place behind Fort Pierce Elementary School, at 10th Street and Delaware Avenue.
We have interviewed the victim, whose identity is protected by state law. She gave a complete and credible statement and assisted this agency in our investigation. I want to thank her for her courage and her honesty.
We also have interviewed Matthew Morris, who admitted the sex act while claiming it was consensual. Our investigation has determined that this was a forcible sexual act that was in no way voluntary on the part of the victim.
After the crimes committed on her by Matthew Morris, the victim left Fort Pierce for a day, then returned to the city. Shortly before dawn Monday, she encountered a Fort Pierce Police Officer. She told him she had been forced by a Deputy Sheriff to perform oral sex on him.
The Fort Pierce Police Department contacted our agency immediately and brought the victim to our detective offices where we interviewed her and began our investigation.
I want to thank the Fort Pierce Police Department for its totally professional handling of this incident.
The woman described to our detectives, in detail, her encounters with Matthew Morris, early Sunday morning. The arrest affidavit contains the details.
At 6:15 this morning, the patrol Lieutenant called Matthew Morris to the Sheriff's Office where he was placed on administrative leave without pay and informed of the allegations against him. At that time, the Sheriff's Office relieved him of his badge and weapon, and our detectives went to his home to retrieve his other uniforms and gear.
The actions of Matthew Morris are a stain on the honor and good name of every member of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, including me. That is why we acted quickly and decisively in this case.
I want to assure the people of St. Lucie County that I will not tolerate misconduct or lawlessness by any member of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office. That is why we took the actions I have described in this case.
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Matthew Morris, arrested for sexual battery by a police officer and official misconduct
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