Sheriff’s deputy arrested on sexual assault charges

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By Erich Wagner (File photo)

An Alexandria sheriff’s deputy was arrested Tuesday evening after allegedly raping a female inmate at the city jail that morning, police said.

Deputy Bryant Pegues, 52, is charged with rape and carnal knowledge of an inmate and is being held in the Arlington County jail. Alexandria Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Amy Bertsch said he has since been fired.

Officials within the sheriff’s office learned of the offense after the inmate told another deputy that she was sexually assaulted. City police were brought in immediately to investigate the allegations, Bertsch said.

Pegues, a resident of Oxon Hill, Md., was a six-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. He was arraigned in Alexandria General District Court Wednesday morning and denied bail.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Porter said in court Wednesday that Pegues used a pen to threaten the victim and raped her between 5 and 6 a.m. Tuesday. He would not comment further about the case after the hearing.

Citing the criminal investigation, Bertsch declined to say whether Pegues violated any policies limiting male deputies’ access to female inmates at the city jail.

“We have male deputies who do work in the housing units with female inmates, but there are policies that control how much access they have,” she said. “We can review our policies and see if there is something that could be done differently or better. … Because of the criminal investigation, we can’t disclose exactly what contact he had with the victim.”

Sheriff Dana Lawhorne ordered an external review of the office’s policies and procedures following the alleged assault. He said current policies include supervisor inspections of jail housing units and a series of monitored security cameras, along with an extensive training program for deputies.

“It’s always prudent to do that, to take a step back and review everything to see if we didn’t miss anything, but I feel confident at this point that we didn’t,” Lawhorne said.

He stressed that the incident should not cast aspersions on the sheriff’s office as a whole.

“Absolutely, it does affect one’s confidence in the trust of an agency sworn to protect the public,” he said. “But you know, the actions of one person are not reflective of the agency or the people who work there. To me, it’s a shock and it’s disappointing to all of us that this occurred, and I’m not pleased about it whatsoever.

“We certainly regret that it happened, and it shouldn’t have happened. But we’ll do everything we can to make sure people have the confidence that it won’t happen again.”

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for July 9. Attorney Ryan Campbell was appointed to represented Pegues. He was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

Police spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said detectives are determining whether there are any other victims related to the case.

In 2003, former Alexandria Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Mayo was charged with kidnapping and carnal knowledge of an inmate for forcing two women in the city’s work release program to have sex with him. Convicted of the two counts of carnal knowledge, he was sentenced to six years in prison.

Mayor Bill Euille said it is important to have a “zero tolerance” policy toward public safety officers who abuse the public trust.

“We’re all about protecting every citizen, their rights and public safety,” Euille said. “I’m very pleased and proud that the sheriff acted in a responsible and timely manner in calling in the police for an investigation.”

A sentence in this post has been edited for clarity at the behest of the Alexandria Police Department.