WALTON COUNTY, Fla. — A school resource deputy working at a school in Walton County has been arrested and charged for the alleged solicitation of a minor, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office has announced.
According to the Walton County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO), Artie Rodriguez, 52, a WCSO school resource deputy, has been terminated and arrested for charges reportedly stemming from an investigation involving a 14-year-old student.
On January 31, the WCSO said it immediately removed Rodriguez from his position as a school resource deputy at the Walton Academy, a charter school located in DeFuniak Springs. The WCSO said it launched an investigation after an alleged victim came forward to file a report.
“It was discovered during the investigation that between December 9th, 2022, and January 26th, 2023, Rodriguez attempted to engage in a sexual relationship with the student both in person and via text, he showed this student explicit photos, touched the student in an inappropriate manner, and provided the student with a vape pen,” the WCSO said in a statement.
The agency is thoroughly investigating whether there was additional misconduct while Rodriguez was on duty, on school premises, or otherwise, the WCSO said.
“Not only was Rodriguez in a position of trust as a school resource deputy but at a school where kids are truly vulnerable and already facing hardship and challenges of their own,” said Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson.
“It’s a violation of his oath of office and the badge.”
Rodriguez reportedly started working with the Walton County Sheriff’s Office in October 2001 and went into reserves in June 2017, returning to full-time status in August 2022.
“This is a long-standing member of our agency, but I won’t mince words,” continued Adkinson.
“We will not, under any circumstances, tolerate this type of behavior from someone in a position of authority – particularly one who is interacting with our children.”
Rodriguez is charged with engaging in a romantic relationship with a student by an authority figure, distribution of harmful material to a minor on school property, use of a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony, battery, and providing nicotine to a minor.