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Crime & Courts

Bartow police: Polk deputy tries to hang himself after arrest


Published:   |   Updated: August 25, 2013 at 10:13 AM

A former Polk County sheriff’s deputy tried to hang himself after being arrested Friday for allegedly sending lewd messages to a teenager, the Bartow Police Department said.

Mark Hicks, 40, was being detained in a holding cell at the Bartow Police Department as an arrest affidavit was being completed. While waiting, Hicks took the waistband from his boxer shorts, fashioned a noose and attempted to hang himself from the cell door, police said.

Minutes later, Hicks was found by police and Polk sheriff’s Capt. Loyd Stewart, who had been notified of the arrest. Stewart performed CPR, and Hicks was taken to Bartow Regional Medical Center. After Hicks was medically cleared, Stewart obtained Hicks’ resignation, police said.

After being medically cleared, Hicks was transported to the Polk County Jail, police said.

The investigation into Hicks began Thursday after a 17-year-old girl told detectives that while she was visiting Hicks’ home, he had kissed and fondled her over her clothes without her consent. She told detectives she got away from Hicks and left the residence.

According to the arrest affidavit, later that day and the next day, Hicks sent lewd cellphone messages to the victim that included images of his torso and penis. In turn, Hicks asked the victim to send him “a pic of herself.” Later, he allegedly sent her a message telling her to delete his messages.

Police examined the victim’s phone and found evidence that Hicks had been calling and sending messages to the victim for the past month, the affidavit said.

Late Friday, detectives went to Hicks’ home, where he was interviewed and, after being read his rights, confessed to kissing and hugging the victim, and to sending lewd images to her, police said.

Hicks was charged with using a computer to solicit a minor; exposing a minor to harmful material; tampering/destroying evidence and battery.

According to police, Hicks was arrested in 2004 for a misdemeanor contempt of court, violation of injunction charge resulting from a child custody dispute. This arrest was later no-billed and Hicks was awarded custody of his biological children in December 2005.

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