Sheriff’s Deputy Arrested Charged With Multiple Crimes

Sheriffs Deputy Arrested

A Maryland sheriff who made the decision to fire and criminally charge one of his own deputies following an investigation into allegations that he raped a woman held in custody in a Kohl’s parking lot spoke to Fox News Digital about how law enforcement has been forced to “lower our standards” in hiring since the defunding of the police.

Following an internal investigation into an alleged October incident involving a 27-year-old victim referred to only as “JA,” Steven Victor Abreu, 30, was fired from the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office and charged with second-degree rape, fourth-degree sexual offense, second-degree assault, false imprisonment, sexual contact in law enforcement custody, and three counts of misconduct in office.

According to Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis, six to seven more victims have come forward since Abreu’s arrest.

Among the charges are allegations that Abreu spoke inappropriately to women during traffic stops and exchanged phone numbers with them, to one encounter where Abreu had sexual relations with a woman.

The woman was drunk when Abreu met her at the scene of a car accident, and he later had intercourse with her in a marked sheriff’s office vehicle in the parking lot of her apartment building. A review of that incident, as well as all the others, continues, and Lewis said additional charges may be filed.

You’re talking about a uniformed deputy with a badge and a gun, and he’s wearing body armor. “I don’t care if she consented. It’s not consensual intercourse,” Lewis said. “It wasn’t just wrong. It wasn’t just a violation of policy procedures. It was a criminal act. He will be charged accordingly.”

Lewis has 36 years of law enforcement experience, including 10 years as sheriff. He explained how agencies are facing severe staffing shortages, resulting in lower hiring standards.

The rank and file of Maryland law enforcement are demoralized right now because Maryland lawmakers have practically legislated us out of a job. “I have always loved my profession. Our rank and files are shrinking all over the nation. It’s not just Mike Lewis of Wicomico County. It’s every sheriff in this country.”

“Recruiting good quality candidates is difficult,” he said. In the end, we end up hiring people who did not impress us during the interview, but we still need warm bodies on patrol in these vacancies we have within our agencies. As a result, our standards are lowered. This is how individuals can make it through the cracks.”

Before beginning solo patrols on Aug. 25, Abreu had completed 26 weeks of training at the academy and another 10 weeks of ride-alongs with a supervisor.

“We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel to find anyone interested in becoming a sheriff’s deputy today because we’ve been so demonized,” Lewis told Fox News Digital. It’s difficult for those people to pass through the process when we do get someone interested in this job.”

He didn’t wow anybody, and we didn’t select him the first time, but he came back,” Lewis said of Abreu. “He showed us that he really wanted to be a deputy. He passed everything, but he didn’t impress us. But guess what he had that most applicants don’t? He was a minority. My office is always looking for more diversity within its rank and file because I have a duty to hire more diverse employees.”

In the end, Abreu passed a written test, physical agility test, polygraph examination, psychological examination, and an interview with a board made up of seasoned commanders within Lewis’ office.

Nevertheless, a law enforcement source told Fox News Digital Abreu should have been fired a month before the Kohl’s lot alleged rape after manipulating his body camera.

Initially, the deputy allegedly made provocative remarks at a traffic stop, and the woman complained to the sheriff’s office. According to the source, the woman called her boyfriend while the deputy followed her home. When the boyfriend came outside, he nearly got into a fight with Abreu, the source said.

The deputy was found to have categorized the body camera footage of the alleged inappropriate exchange during the traffic stop incorrectly as training so that the footage captured would remain available for a shorter amount of time, according to the source. Afterwards, Abreu was reportedly disciplined and docked four days, or approximately $800, from his leave account.

The source added that a captain allegedly commented that he wouldn’t fire Abreu then because he felt the deputy would “straighten out” and the department was short of manpower “because no one wants to be a cop anymore.” In order to stop this “predator”, police administrators were negligent and derelict.”

Abreu was disciplined for manipulating his body camera during that incident, according to Lewis.

After the traffic stop, the woman texted Abreu, sent him “suggestive photos” of herself, and asked to ride with him in his sheriff’s car before her boyfriend caught her. In the end, the woman refused to testify and was not considered a credible witness, according to the sheriff, so the deputy was warned.

In a training exercise on holds, an instructor at the Eastern Shore Criminal Justice Academy documented Abreu inappropriately cupping and groping female breasts. When searching females, recruits are instructed to always use the back of their hands – never the palms.

According to Lewis, he had no prior knowledge of that incident, but after contacting the academy, he learned that Abreu learned how to perform frisks during a class.

The source added that about a month before his arrest, Abreu was docked days for allowing a friend who was a hotel janitor drive around the parking lot in his marked cruiser with lights and sirens on.

The woman who has accused the former officer said that she did not feel free toleave even as the ‘detention’ of her moved from a search to a sexual assault. She was afraid of what he might do.

John Nightbridge is a veteran reporter, researcher, and economic policy major from UCLA. Passionate about world issues and potential ways to solve them is a significant focus of his work. Writing freelance and reading the news are John's passions at work. Outside of work, it's all about sky diving, surfing, and stock market modeling.