Jul. 14—MITCHELL — A former Aurora County Sheriff's deputy is facing multiple child pornography charges after he allegedly kept nude images of a minor for roughly a month.
David Suarez, 24, of Mitchell, was charged with five counts of possession of child pornography in the case, which was investigated by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation.
According to court filings, on June 18, Suarez received multiple nude photos through Facebook Messenger of a female who Suarez knew was 17 years old. The messages were reported to authorities by an unknown party on July 11.
Days later, in an interview with law enforcement, Suarez allegedly admitted to receiving the nude photos. He told investigators that after receiving one set of images, he requested another set of pictures from the 17-year-old the next day, when he received seven more images.
Authorities reviewed the contents of Suarez's phone on July 13 — nearly one month after the photos were originally sent — and allegedly discovered five saved images of a pornographic nature.
In a press release issued Wednesday, Aurora County Sheriff Roman Briggs said Suarez was terminated from his position as a deputy as soon as he learned of the investigation.
"Due to a recent investigation conducted by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Deputy David Suarez is no longer employed at the Aurora County Sheriff's Office," Briggs said. "Once the Aurora County Sheriff's Office was notified of the investigation his employment with our agency was terminated."
After being booked into jail Wednesday afternoon, a Davison County judge set Suarez's bond at $5,000 cash. According to eCourts, the state's online Unified Judicial System, he had not posted bond as of Thursday afternoon.
Suarez was scheduled to appear in a Davison County courtroom Thursday afternoon for an initial appearance. If convicted on all charges, which are each Class 4 felonies, he could be sentenced to serve up to 50 years in prison and be ordered to pay fines of up to $100,000. He has no prior arrests.
The Aurora County Sheriff's Office currently has one deputy on staff, in addition to the sheriff. The department is currently hiring one full-time deputy.
"Our officers will strive to maintain the public trust of the communities we serve," Briggs said. "The Aurora County Sheriff's Office will continue to uphold the constitution and laws of the State of South Dakota with integrity and professionalism."
The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation has not yet released additional information regarding the investigation, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.