June 19, 2024

A former Wakulla County Sheriff’s deputy is facing grave allegations of child molestation in Florida. The arrest took place on September 18, 2023, and was predicated on charges of lewd and lascivious behavior with a young minor.

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The incident came to light after a complaint was filed with the sheriff’s office.

The Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint on April 28, 2021, involving a minor under the age of 12 stating that she was sexually assaulted by Malphurs, according to the press release.

He was sworn in as a deputy with the department in 2015.

During the investigation. [sic] Malphurs was placed on administrative leave per agency policy and later fired after the investigation was completed in 2023.

After WCSO obtained a warrant to collect and search Malphurs’s phone data, investigators discovered multiple inappropriate and sexual searches from October 2020 to May 2021.

Malphurs had been serving as a Deputy Sheriff since 2015, which could raise the possibility that there are other victims. He was placed on administrative leave during the investigation:

In the report dated Sept. 18, 2023, it states:

“On April 28th, 2021, the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) received a complaint involving a minor…being sexually assaulted by…Kenneth Malphurs (WCSO Student Resource Officer). The report was forwarded to WCSO Criminal Investigations Division (C.I.D.) for further investigation.”

The report goes on to say over the course of the investigation, “the victim provided a positive disclosure for sexual abuse at the hands of Kenneth Malphurs.” The report goes on to say the alleged victim, “appeared to have normal cognitive functioning for her age group. She was able to articulate the difference between a truthful statement and a lie. She agreed to tell the truth.”

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Law enforcement obtained a warrant to collect the former officer’s search and phone data. This revealed alarming evidence of wrongdoing in the form of multiple inappropriate searches conducted between October 2020 and May 2021. It was this evidence that led to Malphur’s arrest. He is being charged with “Lewd or Lascivious Molestation” against a victim aged 12 years or less.

Malphurs was transported to the Wakulla County Jail, where he is being held without bond. In a court appearance, the suspect pleaded not guilty. The case is set for a motion hearing on Tuesday, September 26.

The Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office released a statement about the arrest, affirming that Malphurs had first been “placed on administrative leave in accordance with agency policy” after the complaint was received. The former officer was terminated as a result of the investigation’s findings.

ABC 27 also reached out to Wakulla County School Superintendent, Robert Pearce. Friday afternoon, the district sent us the following statement:

“The ex-resource officer in question was one of eleven resource officer positions that the Wakulla County School Board contracts for with the Wakulla County Sheriff’s department. He was removed from his position by the Sheriff’s department and replaced with another officer in the spring of 2021. The Wakulla County School District is not involved in this investigation currently. All questions should be forwarded to the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Department.”

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The allegations against Malphurs are even more concerning given his prior position as a law enforcement officer and School Resource Officer. It further underscores the need for vigilance and for city governments to ensure that they are fully vetting those they employ.

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