BANNING (CNS) - A Riverside County sheriff's correctional deputy accused of engaging in sex acts with female inmates on home detention as part of an extortion scheme was charged Wednesday with nearly 20 felony offenses.
Listen and subscribe to The L.A. Local podcast: your TL;DR for what's happening in Southern California
Christian Phillip Heidecker, 32, of Menifee was arrested Friday following an investigation by the sheriff's department.
Heidecker is charged with three counts each of being a detention officer engaging in sex while on duty and witness intimidation, as well as four counts each of attempted penetration with a foreign object, extortion and a public official seeking bribes.
The defendant, who is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Benoit Detention Center in Indio, was slated to make his initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon at the Banning Justice Center.
According to sheriff's Sgt. Steve Brosche, last month, investigators were tipped off to alleged criminal behavior on the part of Heidecker, who was then assigned to the Alternative Sentencing Program, working out of the Coordinated Custody Management Unit in Banning.
The program enables inmates to serve time on home confinement, in lieu of jail, wearing ankle monitors to track their whereabouts and ensure compliance with the terms of their sentences.
The ensuing investigation revealed that Heidecker had allegedly exploited his position of authority, targeting four female inmates, identified in court documents only by their initials -- "A.A.," "A.R.," "K.P." and "O.C."
The deputy allegedly engaged in unspecified sexual activity with the women, capturing video and still images, according to the criminal complaint.
It was unclear what Heidecker allegedly told the inmates to gain their compliance.
The complaint stated that the defendant then tried to "extort money and other property (from the victims) by means of a wrongful use of force and fear ... (using) sexually explicit photographs and videos."
When it became evident that one or more of the victims was going to report him, Heidecker allegedly tried to prevent them from talking, possibly through intimidation, according to court papers.
Heidecker was arrested without incident in Murrieta on Friday afternoon.
The defendant is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the case.
There was no word regarding how long he has worked for the sheriff's department or been in law enforcement.