Cop is charged after hosting ‘teen sex party’ for underage girls

A Florida police officer has been arrested after an investigation claimed that he was inappropriately inviting four teenage girls into his home, videoing them naked and supplying them with drugs and alcohol.

Markanthony Fernandez, 24, a Bartow Police Department officer in Florida, was charged on Tuesday with four felonies and six misdemeanours after he was investigated over his actions with four teenagers when he shared an inappropriate video with his coworkers.

“It makes me elated to arrest him and put him in jail,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference on Wednesday. “This guy is a bad guy.”

The investigation, carried out by detectives from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at the request of the Bartow PD, focuses on events that occurred during the first weekend of February, which were allegedly captured on video and sent to his fellow officers.

“Our detectives learned that he had a video clip, that he was sharing [a] Snapchat video with people at the police department. And they looked at it and say, ‘Hey, these girls look underage’,” Mr Judd said.

Those officers then reported it to their supervisors.

The investigation identified four females involved in the February incident, two 18-year-olds, one 17-year-old and a 16-year-old, which captured some of them on videos recorded by Mr Fernandez “partying” at his residence, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

He allegedly met one of the girls online via Snapchat, and she introduced him to the other three girls, Mr Judd said.

One video showed one of the 18-year-olds wearing a Bartow PD jacket, while a 17-year-old committed a sexual act on the 18-year-old “at the urging of Fernandez,” the sheriff’s office wrote.

They also said that several of the videos show the alleged victim naked or in other stages of undress with Mr Fernandez inside his residence, with the investigation further claiming that he provided all four of them with alcohol, THC vape pens and THC gummies.

Mr Fernandez has also been accused of going into a bedroom at his home where the 16-year-old was and began to touch and choke her.

Markanthony Fernandez, 24, has been arrested after an investigation alleged an innapropriate relationship with teenage girls
Markanthony Fernandez, 24, has been arrested after an investigation alleged an innapropriate relationship with teenage girls (Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

“He told one of the 18-year-olds and the 17-year-olds that he gets excited sexually from choking people. So he choked the 18-year-old unconscious. Did you hear what I said? He choked the 18-year-old unconscious,” said Mr Judd. “She said that she allowed him to choke her, but he also choked the 17-year-old. And she said, ‘I did not allow him to choke me. And he choked me so much that it scared me.’”

Mr Judd said that all of the girls went to local high schools, and the sheriff’s office believes Mr Fernandes went to a party in Frostproof with the girls, which is still under investigation.

Booked into the Polk County Jail, Mr Fernandez faces a number of charges, including promotion of a juvenile in a sexual performance, use of a juvenile in a sexual performance, battery by strangulation, illegal use of a 2-way communication device, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and provide alcoholic beverages to a person under 21-years of age.

The officer has been placed on administrative leave since February, and his employment is pending termination based on his arrest.

Mr Fernandez started to work for the Bartow Police Department in September 2020, and carried out a year-long stint at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, before returning to the Bartow PD in December 2022, Deputy Chief Stephen Walker said at the conference.

“It’s very disappointing,” Mr Walker said. “We all wear this badge as a sign of public trust, and it’s unfortunate when someone violates that and puts it in question for the community.”

Mr Judd said in the release that the officer has “embarrassed his community, police department and law enforcement officers everywhere” and said that he “must never wear a badge again.”

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