SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A group is accusing a San Diego County sheriff's deputy of trying to solicit minors for sex.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department caught wind of the allegations after People v. Preds posted on social media allegedly exposing the deputy in a "To Catch A Predator"-style sting.
The deputy has not been arrested but has been placed on administrative duties while the department conducts an internal investigation.
Criminal defense attorney David Shapiro said law enforcement can treat these stings as a citizen's tip and may lead to a criminal investigation if allegations are found to be true.
"It may lead to search warrants of computers, of phones, of search histories," Shapiro said.
The group claims the deputy tried to meet with who he believed was a 15-year-old boy for sex.
Instead, it was members of the group posing as underage minors.
"I think the fact that it's not a live minor, it's not a live teenager who's talking to this individual behind his parents' back is a positive thing for the sergeant if he is, in fact, he's facing criminal charges," Shapiro said.
However, Shapiro said people can still face serious time for arranging to meet with a minor for sex or a person they believed to be one.
He added an officer may land in even more trouble if they were conducting the behavior while on duty.
"It would certainly be alleged they're using their power of the badge as law enforcement to dissuade this child, whether real or fake, from reporting the crime," Shapiro said.
That was the case of former deputy Jaylen Fleer. In 2021, Fleer was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple sex crimes with minors.
"What we have seen in a lot of similar cases in the past years is the department taking a firm and hardline stance against their own as it relates to children," Shapiro said.