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Hillsborough Sheriff's Office says deputy, teen had sex

TOWN 'N COUNTRY — She was 13, waiting in the dark for a ride home from Skateworld.

He was in his early 30s, 6-foot-1 and nearly 300 pounds, a former football player who worked as a deputy for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Roosevelt Givens gave the girl a ride home in his patrol car, and, she says, they exchanged cellphone numbers.

Days later, they met at a hotel — and they had sex, she reluctantly told detectives in October.

She and Givens continued to meet over the next five years, she said, and they had sex about a dozen times.

Givens said they only had sex after she turned 18 in May. He told his supervisors that, as a married man, he's not proud of it — but he denies any crime.

A 540-page Internal Affairs document released by the Sheriff's Office this month details an agency's investigation into one of its own.

The victim, whose name is being withheld because of the nature of the crime, didn't want to talk to deputies. Now 18 and an actress in the porn industry, she said she considers Givens a friend.

Still, detectives picked away at the case for four months. And in December, they asked prosecutors to charge Givens with lewd and lascivious battery on a minor.

• • •

Givens grew up in Dunedin and played football at Dunedin High School and later at Eastern Kentucky University, where he studied corrections and juvenile services.

He won most valuable defensive player and met the woman he'd later marry.

In 1998, the Sheriff's Office hired him as a detention deputy. He soon switched to patrol, and the couple's family grew to include three children.

Givens' personnel file contains scattered commendations from over the years. He disarmed a suspect, aided colleagues and comforted grieving families.

In his latest evaluation, Given's supervisors noted his gentle demeanor and compassion.

Then, on Nov. 17, the Sheriff's Office entered a one-page memo in his file:

You are the subject of a pending felony criminal investigation …

• • •

Chris Smith didn't know Givens, but he knew the person who Givens had been meeting for sex.

Smith, 56, had dated her mother. The girl lived with him for a bit last fall.

Then one day, she was gone. So were some of his medications.

He had her cellphone, so he shot out text messages to all her friends, demanding they help him get his pills back. Givens got one of the messages.

Then Smith met with the girl's grandfather, who told him to leave the girl alone or face arrest by the family's friend — Deputy Givens.

The next day, Givens called about the text and said he wasn't involved in the matter.

But Smith was afraid. He thought Givens might be loyal to the girl's family and seek revenge. So Smith called the Sheriff's Office.

He mentioned the text and how he had gotten the deputy's personal cellphone number off the teen's phone. And he told them he had heard rumors that Givens had been meeting the young woman for sex.

• • •

On Nov. 17, Givens went to the Internal Affairs bureau for an interview.

"How long have you been having sexual relations with the little girl?" asked Cpl. Wayne Bunton.

"We started our fling after she was 18," Givens said.

When? the corporal asked.

"Maybe July," Givens answered.

Bunton pushed.

"We believe — and we have evidence — that you two actually began a physical relationship before she was 18," he said.

One piece of evidence: hotel receipts for Microtel on Hillsborough Avenue, where both Givens and the young woman told deputies they had met for sex.

A couple of receipts were dated from the summer — but one was from April. She would have been 17.

The woman told detectives she didn't remember that date as a time they had met, and Givens said he had taken other women to the same hotel.

Two women confirmed Givens' statement, and deputies didn't have surveillance videos to sort out who was with Givens that April day.

But the corporal still pushed.

"The evidence is there," Bunton said. "It's time to say, 'Okay, hold on. This is what happened and why.' "

• • •

Deputies don't relish investigating one in their ranks. When one deputy's integrity is called into question, it can hurt the entire agency, said Sgt. Darrin Barlow, supervisor of the Internal Affairs Bureau.

When two detectives visited the young woman's apartment in October, they pleaded with her to tell the truth.

She insisted it wasn't a big deal — that she could have sex with whomever she wanted, no matter her age.

Detective Benjamin Coddington disagreed.

"This makes all law enforcement look bad, and that totally defeats the purpose of law enforcement," he said. "We're here to protect and to serve — to help people."

She eventually answered their questions. And during that interview she also told them Givens had given her money over the years, probably adding up to a few thousand dollars.

She insisted the money wasn't in exchange for sex. But detectives pulled suspicious text messages between the two from July. In the exchange, she asks for $100, and Givens tells her to come and get it. She replies:

Send it to me ... and ill make it worth it and free wen i come bak

Internal Affairs investigators concluded that Givens had committed two felonies (unlawful sex with a minor and lewd and lascivious acts on a minor) and one misdemeanor (paying for sex). They also said he broke several department rules.

Givens resigned Jan. 27 in lieu of dismissal.

Investigators asked the State Attorney's Office to consider criminal charges, but on Feb. 1, prosecutors decided they wouldn't.

The reason: The young woman — the alleged victim — wasn't returning calls, prosecutors said.

And according to a letter of release, "there is no other admissible evidence to support the charge."

• • •

Givens is unemployed and still married. The couple are living on savings while he looks for work, he said last week.

He says he and his wife are working through their issues. She doesn't believe he committed any crime.

He's mostly upset about losing his job.

"I was a great cop," he said.

Times staff writer Dan Sullivan and news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

Hillsborough Sheriff's Office says deputy, teen had sex 02/25/12 [Last modified: Saturday, February 25, 2012 9:28pm]
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