An American police officer has been arrested for allegedly hosting a party involving drugs, alcohol, and sex acts with four teenage girls.

Mark Anthony Fernandez, 24, was hit with four felony and six misdemeanor charges this week over the inappropriate behavior that allegedly occurred over the weekend of February 3, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.

The incident involved two 18-year-old girls as well as a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old, police said.

He allegedly met at least one of the girls on social media, who may have introduced him to the others, Sheriff Grady Judd said at a press conference.

Fernandez allegedly recorded multiple Snapchat videos of one of the 18-year-olds wearing his police-issued jacket, while the 17-year-old performed a sex act on the older girl at his request.

Several of the videos showed the victims naked with Fernandez inside his home in Lake Wales, Florida, officials said.

Police revealed how the officer, riding a marked police scooter, was attempting to escort the three riders out of the West Drive and West 90th Street area of the iconic greenspace just after 4 p.m. Friday.

Fernandez also gave the four teens THC gummies, vape pens and alcohol, the investigators alleged while he told the teens that he was sexually aroused by choking, Judd said.

Fernandez allegedly choked the 18-year-old until she passed out, and also held the 17-year-old’s neck so tightly that she was scared, the sheriff told reporters.

Fernandez was also accused of taking the 16-year-old into his bedroom, where he started to touch her and choke her.

Fernandez was arrested after he shared videos of the incident with fellow officers at the Bartow Police Department, who reported it to their superiors.

The case was eventually transferred to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

“We know that he brought them specifically to his house in Lake Wales, to give them mind-altering drugs and then to engage in different sexual behaviour,” Judd said of Fernandez’s actions.

Fernandez was employed by the Bartow Police Department in September 2020, authorities said. He briefly worked for the sheriff’s office in October 2021 but returned to the Bartow police by December of the following year.

He has been on paid administrative leave since February. He refused to resign, but his employment is pending termination.

“This guy is a bad guy,” Judd said. “He fooled his way into the system, and then he acted like a fool and he got arrested, and I’m happy about that.”

Bartow Police Deputy Chief Stephen Walker said Fernandez’s behaviour was “very disappointing.”

“We do very in-depth background checks, psychological screening, just try and make sure we’re picking the right candidates, but obviously it’s not perfect and people change,” he lamented.
“You play stupid, stupid, stupid games, you win stupid, stupid, stupid prizes,” Judd added.

Fernandez was booked into Polk County Jail on charges of promotion of a juvenile in a sexual performance, use of a juvenile in a sexual performance, and battery by strangulation, in addition to a slew of other violations.


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