Walton County School Resource officer arrested

Artie Rodriguez, 52.
Artie Rodriguez, 52.(Walton County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 6:56 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A Walton County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Deputy has been terminated and arrested for charges alleging inappropriate conduct with a 14-year-old student.

In a news release from the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, on January 31st, the Sheriff’s Office immediately removed Artie Rodriguez, 52, from his position as a School Resource Deputy at the Walton Academy and launched an investigation after a victim came forward to file a report.

WCSO said It was discovered during the investigation that between December 9th, 2022, and January 26th, 2023, Rodriguez attempted to engage in a sexual relationship with the student both in person and via text. Officials say he showed the student explicit photos, touched the student in an inappropriate manner and provided the student with a vape pen.

WCSO officials also said they are investigating whether there was additional misconduct while Rodriguez was on duty, on school premises, or otherwise.

“Not only was Rodriguez in a position of trust as a School Resource Deputy, but at a school where kids are truly vulnerable and already facing hardship and challenges of their own,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson, in a news release. “It’s a violation of his oath of office and the badge.”

WCSO said Rodriguez started with the Walton County Sheriff’s Office in October of 2001 and went into reserves in June 2017 returning to full-time status in August 2022.

“This is a long-standing member of our agency, but I won’t mince words,” said Adkinson. “We will not, under any circumstances, tolerate this type of behavior from someone in a position of authority – particularly one who is interacting with our children.”

Rodriguez is charged with engaging in a romantic relationship with a student by an authority figure, distribution of harmful material to a minor on school property, use of a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony, battery, and providing nicotine to a minor.

Copyright 2023 WJHG. All rights reserved.