CALABASAS ( — The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is investigating allegations of sexual coercion.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports that the allegations made by a female deputy are leveled against three of the department’s former and current command staff.

The Los Angeles Times identified the accused as Capt. Joseph Stephen of the Malibu-Lost Hills station, retired Chief Ronnie Williams and retired Capt. Anthony Ward.

According to the Times, both Stephen and Williams have denied the allegations. Ward could not be reached by the newspaper for comment.

“Despite reports to the contrary, Capt. Joe Stephen who was interviewed and acknowledged that he is one of the subjects of this criminal investigation has said — not only has he denied these allegations as the others have as well — is that he has not resigned from the Sheriff’s Department. That is one of his options but there has been no decision as of that yet,” said Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.

Whitmore confirmed to CBS2 that a criminal investigation is currently underway and is being handled by the Special Victims Bureau.

“The Sheriff takes these allegations very seriously. He’s going to find out exactly what did or did not happen,” said Whitmore. “There is a criminal investigation that is now being undertaken that involves two of his former command staff and one of his current command staff.”

Said Whitmore, “it’s important to remember that that does not mean a crime has been committed. The investigation will decide that. Allegations are allegations. The Sheriff takes any allegations seriously. But what he is intending to do is find out exactly what did or did not happen.”

According to the Times, the deputy making the allegations is reportedly the daughter of a top aide to Sheriff Lee Baca.

She was placed on leave without pay pending charges of vandalism and battery, Mertz reported.

“She’s been relieved of duty without pay. She’s been stripped of all law enforcement powers,” Whitmore said.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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