Tue, Jun 25, 2024
Florida officer arrested for sexual conduct with minors

Florida officer arrested for sexual conduct with minors

  • PublishedMay 29, 2024

Markanthony Fernandez was allegedly involved in a relationship with two 18-year-olds, a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Law enforcement arrested a Bartow Police Department officer for inappropriate sexual conduct with four teenage girls, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said during a news conference Wednesday.

The officer, 24-year-old Markanthony Fernandez, faces several charges, including promotion of a juvenile in a sexual performance, battery by strangulation, illegal use of a communication device and more.

“You play stupid, stupid, stupid games, you win stupid, stupid, stupid prizes,” Judd said.

Fernandez was involved in a relationship with two 18-year-olds, a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old, Judd said, who added that all attended area high schools.

The sheriff’s office said Fernandez shared a video with fellow officers of him directing one of the teens to perform a sexual act on one of the 18-year-olds in February at his home in Lake Wales.

Judd said the teens could be seen “in various states of undress.” Fernandez is also accused of committing sexual acts on the 16-year-old at his home and providing the teens with THC vape pens and gummies.

Officers noticed the girls were underage, reported the incident, and an investigation was launched on May 8 with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Judd said. 

Bartow Deputy Chief Stephen Walker, who accompanied Judd at the conference, said Fernandez’s alleged actions are “very disappointing.” Fernandez was initially hired by the department in 2020 before he transferred to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. He worked there until December 2022 before he was re-hired by the Bartow Police Department.

“Markanthony Fernandez has embarrassed his community, police department and law enforcement officers everywhere,” Judd said in a statement. “In contrast, his fellow officers at Bartow Police Department did the right thing by reporting his conduct. 

“Markanthony Fernandez must never wear a badge again.”

Fernandez was arrested Tuesday, May 28, according to the sheriff’s office. He was placed on leave in February, and his employment with the Bartow Police Department is pending termination.

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