Charles Ingram wants to make sure that if another Kansas cop gets accused of doing something inappropriate with a minor, it gets handled differently than what he experienced with his daughter in 2011.
Back then, Ingram filed a complaint accusing Sedgwick County sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Delgado of inappropriate behavior with Ingram’s teenage daughter.
Ingram is asking lawmakers to change state law so that such an allegation automatically gets investigated to determine whether criminal charges are warranted.
What motivates Ingram: In late 2011, Delgado gave Ingram’s then-16-year-old daughter what was supposed to be an educational, mentoring-type ride in his patrol car. At the time, Ingram trusted Delgado and signed the consent form for the ride-along.
A sheriff’s internal investigation of whether policy was violated – there was not a criminal investigation – determined that the deputy spoke inappropriately about sex to the girl during the hours-long ride. Sheriff’s supervisors reassigned Delgado to a job out of patrol. Then he took a job as a Valley Center police sergeant in 2014.
Now, almost six years after he gave the teen the extended ride in his patrol car, Delgado is facing a felony charge of sexual exploitation of a child and six misdemeanors: sexual battery, attempted sexual battery, official misconduct and three counts of harassment by telecommunications device. The charges say there were four victims. According to the charges, the crimes occurred from early 2015 to late 2016. One charge involves lewd or obscene text messages.
According to a detective’s affidavit that is a basis for the charges, Delgado repeatedly had a girl ride with him while on duty in his Valley Center patrol car. Once, the affidavit says, he stopped in the middle of the road to rub her breast through her clothing.
Ingram, 47, of Derby has been saying for months that if Delgado had been fired years ago, there wouldn’t be additional victims.
Key: sexual innuendo
Sheriff Jeff Easter said he would have handled Ingram’s 2011 complaint differently had he been sheriff at the time.
Easter became sheriff about a year after the previous administration disciplined Delgado following an internal investigation.
Easter said he would have ordered a criminal investigation – and would have done it first because of the nature of the complaint by Ingram: that a girl was riding with him while the deputy was lacing his talk with sexual innuendo.
Sheriff’s staff members doing the internal investigation of Delgado had clear-cut evidence of what Delgado said in the patrol car, Easter said.
That’s because the deputy had accidentally activated the recording system in the patrol car that day.
“The key to it is sexual innuendo,” Easter said of what today would prompt him to conduct a criminal investigation of a deputy’s conduct.
When investigators spoke to Ingram’s daughter about Delgado a couple months after the ride-along, she didn’t disclose that he touched her, Easter said. Such an allegation would have triggered a criminal investigation, “I would hope,” Easter said.
She didn’t report that Delgado had touched her until late 2016, Easter said, around the time that sheriff’s investigators in Easter’s administration were arresting Delgado because of the most recent allegations.
Easter said he isn’t blaming Ingram’s daughter for not disclosing the alleged touching. It’s not unusual for alleged victims not to reveal everything, sometimes because of embarrassment or fear.
Ingram’s daughter, Faith Hick, is now 22, six years older than when the ride occurred. She said Wednesday night that she doesn’t remember much about the interview or why she didn’t mention any touching to investigators.
The fact is, Delgado did touch her during the ride, she said Wednesday. He rubbed her left leg two or three times while talking about sex, she said.
At the time of the internal-investigation interview, she said, she was a severely depressed 16-year-old.
“I was completely overwhelmed. I didn’t care about the investigation … at the time.”
Back then, Hick said, she didn’t want to get Delgado into trouble, because he had been a mentor to her.
“Now, as an adult and mother, I just view it completely differently.”
Easter also said he is not blaming Sheriff Robert Hinshaw, whose staff dealt with Delgado.
“In Sheriff Hinshaw’s defense, she never reported (at the time) that she was touched.”
What she reported in 2011 might not have risen to the level of a criminal investigation, Easter said. It was a gray area, he said. The fact is, “based on what she told the internal investigators, (they) didn’t think it was a crime.” But Easter said he would have called for a criminal investigation because of the sexual nature of the incident. “Simply a policy difference between him (Hinshaw) and I,” Easter said.
Hinshaw said in December that he couldn’t recall the internal investigation.
Firing not an option
In an Eagle article this past December after Delgado’s arrest, Ingram said that around January 2012, a sheriff’s detective who interviewed his daughter informed him that the internal investigation had corroborated everything his daughter had said about the incident. A contact at the sheriff’s office told him that Delgado’s punishment was six months of desk duty with the sex-offender registry office, Ingram said.
Asked Wednesday about Delgado’s time with the sheriff’s office after he became sheriff, Easter said that firing Delgado wasn’t an option for him because discipline had already been imposed.
Easter said although he could confirm that Delgado had been disciplined, he couldn’t give details about it because of personnel rules. The supervisors who handled Delgado’s discipline have retired, Easter said.
Delgado was with the sheriff’s offender registration unit when he resigned to take the police job in Valley Center in 2014, Easter said.
Before Delgado was hired by Valley Center, no one from the Valley Center Police Department called the sheriff’s office to seek files on Delgado that included the internal investigation findings, Easter has said.
Ingram said he wants to focus on the future now, to press the state to adopt laws that would:
▪ have stiffer sentences and penalties for law enforcement officers on duty who commit crimes against minors.
▪ increase the statute of limitations for officers accused of such crimes.
▪ automatically refer such cases for criminal investigations.