Former sheriff's deputy sentenced to 6 years in prison for sexual battery on a minor

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Alachua County Sheriff's Office is located at 2621 S.E. Hawthorne Road in Gainesville.
Alachua County Sheriff's Office is located at 2621 S.E. Hawthorne Road in Gainesville.

A former Alachua County K-9 deputy has been sentenced to six years in state prison for unlawful sexual activity with a minor, according to Alachua County Clerk of Court records.

William Arnold Jr., 51, a former 13-year veteran of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, was arrested back in 2019 on allegations he had sex with a teenager multiple times over a period of three years.

He was originally charged with two counts each of sexual battery of a victim age 16 or 17 and with lewd and lascivious behavior with a victim age 12 to 16, facing up to 30 years in prison and a $20,000 fine had he fought the charges in court.

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In April, Arnold pleaded no contest to the sexual battery charges, while the more serious lewd and lascivious behavior charges were dropped as part of a plea deal.

Each count will be served concurrently. Additionally, he will face 9 years of probation with electronic monitoring and a lifetime of registering as a sex offender upon his release.

The victim, who was 17 at the time Arnold was arrested, told the Sheriff's Office that Arnold and she had been involved in a sexual relationship since she was 14 and in the eighth grade.

Arnold initially denied the accusations and told ASO investigators that he has known the girl for about three years and considered her a family friend. She would stay for long periods of time at his house, adding that “horseplay” was the only physical contact between them, an arrest report states.

The Sheriff's Office learned of the allegations after people who know the victim questioned her about changes in her behavior.

Then-Sheriff Sadie Darnell said in a statement that ASO had enough probable cause to arrest Arnold.

“The impact of these allegations on the victim and their family must come first, but I am shocked and saddened to hear an employee could make such choices in their personal life,” Darnell said.

This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Former Deputy Sentenced to 6 years in prison for sexual battery