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A Maryland sheriff's deputy has been arrested and fired from the force after a woman told police she had been pulled over, sexually assaulted and then repeatedly pursued by him while on duty.
Steven Abreu, 30, is charged with felony second-degree rape according to a press release from the Wicomico County Sheriffs Office in Salisbury, Maryland — which is on Maryland's eastern peninsula near the Delaware border. He is also facing seven misdemeanor counts, according to court records viewed by Oxygen.com: fourth-degree sexual offense, second-degree assault, false imprisonment, sexual contact while a person is in law enforcement custody and three counts of misconduct while in office.
He was terminated as a result of the investigation after being employed for less than a year, the sheriff's office added.
According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) CBS affiliate WBOC, the woman who reported Abreu went to the station just before noon on Sunday and asked to file a complaint about a deputy. But, once the 27-year-old woman began describing what officers termed a sexual assault, detectives were called in.
The woman told police that she had met a male friend in the local Kohl's Department Store parking lot — which is adjacent to her place of work — on Wednesday morning around 1:00 a.m. when a deputy, later identified as Abreu, pulled in behind them and told them they weren't allowed to be there. Abreu then had her friend exit the vehicle, spoke with him out of earshot and told him to leave. (In a separate interview, her friend confirmed they'd been stopped by an unknown deputy and he'd been released by himself.)
Abreu then allegedly returned to the vehicle, asked the woman's name and phone number and told her to exit her car because he needed to search for any illegal substances.
"She complied and described that he did not search her vehicle but proceeded to 'frisk' her," the affidavit stated. "She stated that he used his hands to grab her breasts and then grabbed her buttocks."
The woman, who police said was visibly shaking and upset when recounting the incident, told police that Abreu told her to return to her vehicle and, once seated, he shone his flashlight on her, shoved his left hand down the front of her pants and "penetrated her vagina with his fingers," after which he used that hand to reach up under her shirt and touch her breasts.
"[She] stated that she did not consent to any of the sexual acts," police wrote in the affidavit. "She stated that she did not feel free to leave and was fearful of what would happen if she did try to run away or fight him."
Abreu's alleged assault was interrupted when, the woman said, the friend who had been in the car called to check on her, and she told Abreu that it was her babysitter being worried she was late. She said he wrote his phone number down and sent her off, after which he allegedly used the phone number he'd obtained after pulling her over to call her — she didn't answer — and text her something of a sexual nature.
She told police that, after the text, she blocked his number.
Shortly before 11:00 p.m. on Friday — less than 72 hours later — the woman told police she was driving home from work and talking to her fiancé when she noticed a marked police car following her and told her fiancé she knew it was Abreu. The office then allegedly turned on his emergency lights, pulled her over and walked up to her passenger-side window to explain she had a tag light out. He allegedly told her that he hadn't realized it was her when he pulled her over.
He then returned to his car briefly, and walked up to her driver's side window to speak to her.
"She said that she told him she only had a few minutes to get to the store to get diapers for her child before the store closed," the affidavit stated. "She said he asked her why she didn’t go to a different store, closer to her job, before heading in the direction of her home, indicating he had been watching her prior to her leaving from work and knew where she had gone."
She told officers that he then reached into the car, grabbed her face and tilted her head, remarking that bruises he'd seen on her neck during the initial encounter were no longer visible.
"She said that he then let her go and told her that he would see her again and that she was not to tell anyone about their interactions," the affidavit states.
On Saturday the woman said had her fiancé drop her off and pick her up at work. When her fiancé arrived at her place of employment around 10:15 p.m., he allegedly noticed a marked police vehicle with its headlights on, seemingly waiting in the parking lot of her job. Her fiancé exited his vehicle and took a video of his car to show that all the required lights were operational — and then taped the police vehicle, which drove off.
She reported Abreu on Sunday morning. Police then allegedly had her call him and recorded the conversation.
"In that call Abreu spoke to [the woman] about the incident and apologized three separate times," police wrote in the affidavit. "Abreu also admitted that he had turned off the camera systems in his car and his body-worn camera after the initial approach and prior to engaging in the conversation at the driver side door of [her] vehicle.
When police went to interview him around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, he allegedly told his fellow officers that he'd stopped by the woman's car on Wednesday night because he recognized her passenger, but claimed the two had driven off together. He allegedly denied having turned off his body-worn camera during the encounter and denied having had contact with her in the days since.
At the end of his interview with police, Abreu allegedly admitted to all aspects of the assault as the woman had described them, but claimed it had all been consensual.
Abreu was arrested on Sunday. After a Monday hearing, he was ordered held without bond, according to court records reviewed by Oxygen.com. He has been assigned a public defender and is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 29.
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