Snohomish County deputy charged with child rape

Anthony Zayas, 26, claimed he did not know the girl he met on Tinder was 14, charging papers say.

ARLINGTON — A Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy has been charged with third-degree child rape for allegedly having sexual contact with a runaway teenage girl he met online.

Domestic court records show Anthony Zayas, 26, was placed on administrative leave Aug. 6.

Zayas met the girl on Tinder, where she used a fake name and claimed to be 19, according to charging papers. Quoting someone who knew the girl, investigators described her as looking “fourteen or fifteen without makeup,” or “seventeen, if that, with makeup on,” wrote deputy prosecutor Jarett Goodkin. She was 14.

She told police he gave her alcohol. He told investigators he took her word for it — after picking her up late at night at a park in Mount Vernon — that she was an adult, the charges say.

In early June, the girl’s mother reported to a police department in Idaho that the girl was a runaway. Later, she was found in Spokane. One of the mother’s friends agreed to take her to Skagit County to stay a while, in a home monitored by security cameras, figuring it would give the girl a break from home and keep her from running off again. About two weeks later, the girl admitted to her mom’s friend that she had been sneaking out, according to the charges.

The friend went through the teenage girl’s phone and found Snapchat photos of a man later identified as Zayas. The girl told the woman they were “not just hanging out” and that he was into sexual bondage, according to charging papers. The friend looked up Zayas on Facebook and saw evidence that he might be a cop. She reportedly contacted him and told him the girl’s real age.

“Oh my God,” Zayas replied, according to court papers. “What the (expletive)?”

Police in Idaho examined the girl’s cellphone in July. They found a photo showing a man dressed in a sheriff’s deputy uniform with the nametag “A. Zayas,” time-stamped around 3:40 p.m. on June 20. Another picture of a Honda CR-V registered to Zayas was taken around 5:45 a.m. the next morning.

The girl later told police they drank rum and Coke, watched TV and had intercourse twice. According to Zayas’ account, she listed her age online as 19 and told him in person that her age was 18.

Detectives with the Marysville Police Department took up the investigation and spoke with another sheriff’s deputy in August.

That deputy reported he had a conversation with Zayas on the day he was supposed to meet with the date. According to that deputy’s report, Zayas was talking about meeting a 19-year-old woman after his shift ended at 2 a.m. The coworker recalled it was the middle of their work week. Zayas planned to drive to Mount Vernon to pick her up. He knew Zayas “used a variety of dating and hookup apps, including Tinder.”

He joked with Zayas about being careful, since it seemed to be a theme in sex crime investigations that predators try to meet children in parks. The next night Zayas told him he met the girl in a park, early in the morning hours, so as “not to disrupt the residence where she was staying,” according to the deputy’s report. Then they went to his home in Arlington and it was implied in the conversation that they had sex.

The deputy also recounted Zayas claimed to have been cautious about revealing his profession in dating profiles. For example, on one of his profiles Zayas wrote that he was “not a cop.”

But the coworker noted Zayas had “law enforcement tattoos,” as well as a marked patrol car parked at his home. Zayas also mentioned that his date didn’t seem to like the police.

In an interview with Marysville detectives in late August, the girl described Zayas picking her up at the park and dropping her off hours later at the same spot. They only met once, she reported.

Police interviewed Zayas at the Marysville Police Department in early September, with his attorney present. He explained the girl claimed to be a student at Eastern Washington University and that they quickly switched from Tinder to Snapchat to talk about meeting up. She told him she wanted to see him after his shift, according to Zayas.

He asked her why she didn’t drive, and she told him a story about how she was in a crash and her license was suspended. She later said it was a DUI, and “it would be a bad idea to drive to a cop’s house with a suspended driver’s license.”

He asked her age and birthday. He believed her, he stated, because she smoked cigarettes, talked about marijuana and had a tattoo.

During the sexual contact, they used handcuffs, Zayas reported. He confirmed the contact happened twice.

“Zayas stated he almost threw up when he found out (the girl’s) real age, and he could not shower enough,” according to the charges.

At the end of the interview, Zayas was not arrested, and he was not in custody as of Tuesday.

The statutory rape charges were submitted Friday in Snohomish County Superior Court. Court records do not list an attorney for Zayas, nor do they state when his next court hearing will be.

Zayas was hired by the county in July 2019. He remained on administrative leave as of this week while the sheriff’s office conducts its own internal review.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

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