Former Colorado jail deputy charged with sexual abuse of at least 5 children

Posted at 5:12 PM, Aug 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-31 19:20:05-04

MONTROSE, Colo. (AP) — A former western Colorado sheriff's deputy has been arrested on suspicion of child sexual abuse involving five boys at various times over the past decade.

Joshua Hemphill, 25, of Montrose was arrested last week. His bail was maintained at $250,000 at a hearing Thursday, court officials said.

Court records allege Hemphill sexually abused a 12-year-old boy he met through a mentoring program in 2014, a 13-year-old boy that he met at through a mentoring program event in 2016, even though he had been dismissed as a volunteer; and three other boys. Two of the boys reported being drugged and sexually assaulted. Officials suspect there may be other victims.

Hemphill's case was assigned to public defender Patrick Crane. The agency does not comment on cases.

In July, a boy in South Dakota told his probation officer that Hemphill had sexually abused him in Colorado in 2014.

Hemphill was arrested last week for violating a restraining order another family obtained to keep him away from their children, including a boy Hemphill met through a mentoring program event last year. The family reported Hemphill contacted them to apologize and say he wanted to pay for the boy's therapy.

Hemphill acknowledged having sexual contact with three other boys, with ages ranging from 9 to 15, dating back to at least 2007, court records said. Hemphill said one of the cases involved the son of an Idaho woman he was dating while serving a church mission.

Hemphill had worked for the Mesa County sheriff's office as a work release officer and a detention deputy. He worked for the Dolores County sheriff's office from December 2016 to July, initially training as a patrol deputy, The Daily Sentinel reported. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation notified Dolores County Sheriff Jerry Martin on July 16 that Hemphill was under investigation. Hemphill resigned on July 27, Martin said.

Hemphill is expected to be in court on Sept. 28 to hear the formal charges against him, court officials said.