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  1. #1
    PapaBear's Avatar
    PapaBear is offline SgtCHP-Retired
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    O.C. deputy found dead, faced molestation charges


    Officers examine the site of an on-duty deputy's death at a parking structure inside the Aliso Viejo Town Center. Gerald Stenger, who was found dead with a single gunshot wound to the head, had earlier in the day been charged with molesting a 12-year-old boy.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    He had been charged with molestation. Suicide is suspected.

    By H.G. Reza and My-Thuan Tran, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

    April 4, 2008

    An on-duty Orange County sheriff's deputy who was found dead Wednesday afternoon had been charged earlier in the day with molesting a 12-year-old boy he met through a child mentoring program, authorities said Thursday.

    Gerald Stenger, 41, was found at 2 p.m. in the driver's seat of an unmarked patrol car with a gunshot wound to the head, said Orange County district attorney spokeswoman Susan Kang Schroeder. The car was found in an Aliso Viejo parking structure, not far from Stenger's home.


    Gerald Stenger

    Believing that Stenger might be suicidal, authorities had taken steps to keep the criminal charges confidential until he could be safely apprehended. Investigators said they now want to know whether he had learned of his pending arrest.

    The veteran deputy was charged Wednesday morning with molesting a 12-year-old boy. Authorities said Stenger met the youth through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, which matches young boys and girls with adults. He would have faced a maximum sentence of 18 years in prison if convicted.

    Though Stenger met the victim through Big Brothers, the group's chief executive said the deputy was not the boy's mentor. Gus Valdespino said the organization had been cooperating in the investigation since last fall.

    "We're very shocked and saddened by [Stenger's death]. He was never matched with the child who was molested, and we have safeguards in place to make sure this doesn't happen," Valdespino said.

    He said Stenger served as a Big Brother from 1991 to 1995 but declined to say why he stopped mentoring. Law enforcement officials said Stenger began molesting his victim in 1995 and continued for two years.

    Privately, law enforcement sources say Stenger, a 20-year-veteran, killed himself.

    Schroeder, though, said investigators were still trying to determine whether his death was a suicide or homicide. She said authorities sealed the case file Wednesday morning.

    A statement released by the district attorney's office Thursday said a no-bail warrant had been obtained and prosecutors had coordinated with the Sheriff's Department to arrest Stenger in a safe manner. Authorities had planned to take him into custody in the afternoon at sheriff's headquarters in Santa Ana.

    "We believe he may have found out he was under investigation and was going to be arrested," Schroeder said. "Only a few people in our office knew about the charges."

    Stenger came under scrutiny when the victim told a family member that he had been molested, and the Sheriff's Department was notified, Schroeder said.

    Sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said the department launched an internal investigation and sent the case to the district attorney a few weeks ago. District attorney's investigators conducted a separate probe and filed charges against Stenger.

    Schroeder said the victim was told about Stenger's death, and "he feels he did the right thing by coming forward with information about the molestation."

    Authorities do not know if the deputy molested others, she said.

    Amormino said Stenger was promoted from deputy to investigator in August and worked out of sheriff's headquarters in Santa Ana investigating robberies, burglaries and other crimes in north Orange County.

    The molestation complaint against him resulted in the department's only internal investigation of Stenger, Amormino said. He was not married.

    hgreza@latimes.com

    my-thuan.tran@latimes.com
    Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.
    [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]


  2. #2
    Ducky's Avatar
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    This is just messed up all the way around.
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  3. #3
    Just KC's Avatar
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  4. #4
    kjlaw's Avatar
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    That is a messed up situation there.


    Sad part is with his death no one will ever know for sure if he killed himself as a sign of guilt or due to the stress that this type of investigation and pending arrest can have on a person.
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  5. #5
    gozling's Avatar
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    geesh
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  6. #6
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    My thoughts and prayers for his family and department - I know how painful this will be for them.
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