Douglas County Deputy Robert "Mike" French is a longtime law enforcer who's worked on some very high-profile investigations. His latest case is different, though -- since the suspected perp is him. French was busted over the weekend for suspected sexual exploitation of a child -- and the DougCo sheriff's office now confirms that he's been given the sack as well.
Unfortunately, cases like French's are hardly unique. It was just last August when Rick Ferguson, a veteran deputy for the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, pleaded guilty to child-sex exploitation after computer-forensic experts determined he'd been communicating with girls age fifteen and under using an office computer while on duty. By raising the white flag, he received a deal calling for a relative slap on the wrist for his offense -- probation rather than jail time. But at least his deputy-ing days were over.
Like Ferguson, French has been in uniform for years. As evidence, check out this February 2007 Rocky Mountain News article, which lists him as a DCSO investigator in the case of Jose Luis Rubi-Nava, who was accused of putting a rope around his girlfriend's neck, telling her, "If you want death, here it is," and then dragging her from his car for a mile-plus.
More recently, French was reportedly working in a support-service position -- a role that touches upon dispatch, communications and the serving of court papers. As such, he didn't have direct contact with kids as part of his everyday duties. But the DCSO believe he managed to do so anyhow.
According to Sergeant Ron Hanavan, the office spokesman, the DCSO received information last week about what are termed "inappropriate text messages involving a juvenile" -- no age or gender is provided. Before long, the details pointed at French, and he was taken into custody last Friday on two sexual-exploitation-of-a-child counts. He was subsequently released on a $50,000 bond and placed on unpaid administrative leave while both a criminal investigation and an internal-affairs probe took place.
The latter clearly reached a tipping point in short order, given that French has now been handed his walking papers.
Hanavan calls the case "complex" and suggests that additional arrests may be possible -- a chilling prospect. Other than that, no additional details are being released.
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Look below to see a larger version of French's double mug shot, followed by a 9News report.