Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos is delaying an internal investigation related to a former sergeant’s alleged sexual assault of a deputy during a Christmas party, the union representing deputies says.

Nanos

A female deputy alleges that her lieutenant, captain and chief let her to be sexually assaulted by a superior at the party last December, but Nanos put an internal investigation into her claim “on hold,” the Pima County Deputy’s Organization says.

Nanos called the union’s claims “wild accusations” and that he is disappointed by the allegations being leveled against him and the people who investigated the case.

Ricardo Garcia, a former sergeant who led a team of school resource officers, was arrested in January on suspicion of sexual assault at his home attended by several other department employees.

A criminal investigation was opened immediately. However, the labor union says Nanos put a second, internal investigation the deputy sought into the actions of the chain of command in connection with their actions, or inaction, that night on hold.

According to the union, the deputy filed a formal complaint against her lieutenant, captain and chief after it was determined that they “were aware that she was being actively sexually assaulted by her sergeant, Ricky Garcia, and refused to intervene for over 80 minutes.”

Garcia

The department launched its criminal investigation on Dec. 18, and Garcia was placed on administrative leave with pay. He was then fired and was later arrested on suspicion of one count of sexual assault.

The criminal case is being handled by the Santa Cruz County Attorney’s Office, as previously reported by the Arizona Daily Star.

After Sheriff Nanos did not launch an internal investigation of supervisors and commanders in connection with the alleged assault, the union claims the deputy filed a complaint through internal affairs against her chain of command.

“The suspect was a well-known friend of this Chief. Why was the Chief in question transferred to oversee Internal Affairs after this incident? Was there an attempt to cover up their involvement or complicity in the aftermath?” the organization said. “We at the Pima County Deputy’s Organization are outraged that Sheriff Nanos has failed to investigate the serious misconduct amongst his own command that allowed the prolonged sexual assault of a deputy.”

The labor union is demanding that Nanos have a full internal investigation, or request that another agency do so.

Nanos denies claims made by the labor union.

“I am deeply disgusted with any organization that would take a sexual assault victim and exploit her for their own political gain,” Nanos said in a written statement.

“For these individuals to make wild accusations that are furthest from the truth, and then question the integrity of others is truly disappointing,” he said. “ I have complete faith in those who investigated this case, and it is now in the hands of the court.”

The deputy has since filed a $900,000 claim against Garcia, Pima County and other law enforcement officials, as previously reported by the Arizona Daily star.

The claim says Garcia and his girlfriend allowed the deputy to stay in their spare room after she felt she was unable to drive home. Garcia, who was the deputy’s supervisor at the time then allegedly sexually assaulted the deputy while she was unconscious, says the claim, a precursor to a lawsuit.

The claim seeking $225,000 names the county, Nanos, Garcia and chief of staff Joseph D. Cameron as defendants.

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