LAWRENCE (CBS) – A 25-year veteran officer with the Lawrence Police Department will not fight extradition to Florida.
Officer Carols Gonzalez is accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl while on vacation there. The girl is a family member.
In court Thursday, he tried desperately to hide from the camera as two Florida detectives waited patiently to take him south and his own chief pondered yet another Lawrence cop accused of going astray.
“We’re held to a higher standard,” said Lawrence Police Chief John Romero, “the public expects a lot from us and rightfully so and we need to live up to that.”
Gonzalez is charged with sexual battery on a young family member.
The teenage girl went to Lawrence Police headquarters in December insisting that Officer Gonzalez had fed her alcohol and then sexually assaulted her during a family summer vacation last July.
Lawrence detectives alerted authorities in Haines City, Florida and Gonzalez was essentially suspended with pay.
It was also in December, that neighbors say the officer’s wife moved out of their rented home on Plummer Street, taking her three children while her husband stayed put.
Florida detectives busted Gonzalez Wednesday, ironically plucking him from the classroom where he’s a part-time law student. He may be absent a while.
Gonzalez signed off an extradition Thursday, but prosecutors want to make sure he stays in jail until his flight to Florida late next week.
Chief Romero says the officer is still collecting his $60,000 salary.
“If Florida indicts him, the city could suspend him without pay, or the city could also start termination hearings as well,” said Chief Romero.
Officer Gonzalez is likely to spend a lot of time hiding in the weeks to come.
Gonzalez becomes the fourth Lawrence Police officer put on administrative leave amid legal trouble in the last six months. All four are still on the payroll because the mayor has thwarted the chief’s effort to fire them.