By Desiree Stennett
A Seminole County deputy was arrested Thursday after investigators accused him of soliciting sex from a 17-year-old girl through a series of Facebook messages.
David Rodriguez, a 28-year-old patrol deputy, recently received recognition from Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger for saving a man after a boating accident earlier this year.
Rodriguez now accused of using a computer to solicit sex from a child.
He and the girl both participated in martial arts tournaments. When they met, she was 6 and he was about 17. The two kept in touch over the years, his arrest report stated.
The girl told deputies that she and Rodriguez, who is married and has a newborn, started out with friendly text messages.
Eventually the two became Facebook friends and would send private messages back and forth.
After the girl's 17th birthday, the conversations became sexual, the report stated.
Rodriguez admitted to soliciting sex from the girl but said the two never actually met for sex.
"Rodriguez stated that he was going to keep trying to put off meeting with [the girl] for sex until she was 18 years old," the report stated. The detective "confronted Rodriguez that on several occasions that they arranged to meet for sex, it was [the girl] who had to cancel and Rodriguez did not respond."
The Facebook exchange was discovered because the girl's father saw the messages when she left her social-media profile open on a home computer.
The father did not confront his daughter because he was concerned she would not be cooperative.
When she was interviewed, the girl told officials she had a crush on Rodriguez for years and said when his child was born on July 9, she realized that Rodriguez was trying to take advantage of her.
She said she wanted the sexual conversations to stop but didn't know how to end the relationship.
The Seminole County Sheriff's Office is in the process of firing Rodriguez. He had been a patrol deputy since February 2010.
Rodriguez received a Life Saving Award in May from Eslinger. According to the Sheriff's Office, Rodriguez helped save a man who capsized his kayak.
According to investigators, Rodriguez admitted to the crime and turned himself into the Seminole County jail.
He was released late Thursday on $50,000 bail.