2 Panhandle deputies charged with assaulting minor

Author: Associated Press
MGN Online

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) – Two Florida Panhandle deputies face charges of sexually assaulting a minor and arrest warrants have been issued for two paramedics also linked to the case.

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said during a news conference Monday that Walter Michael Thomas, 44, and Mark Gene Smith, 40, have been placed on unpaid administrative leave and are being held in jail. They have both been charged with sexual assault on a victim over the age of 12.

Authorities are searching for Okaloosa County paramedics Leah and Douglas Manning.  According to arrest reports, the couple knew the deputies and took videos while one of the men was involved in sexual acts. Leah Manning previously worked as a nurse at the Escambia County Jail.

The Mannings, who are married, were known as swingers and openly had multiple sexual partners, Morgan said.  Investigators found hundreds of thousands of photos and videos related to the investigation on the manning’s computer. The Mannings are believed to have fled the state, Morgan said.

The Pensacola News Journal (http://on.pnj.com/1wllScy ) reports that the deputies each face up to 30 years in prison if convicted. According to the arrest report, both deputies denied any wrongdoing.

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