A former Beaufort County Sheriff's Office deputy was arrested by S.C. Law Enforcement Division agents Friday for allegedly exchanging lewd instant messages with a 15-year-old girl.
Jason Andrew Meier, 39, of Bluffton was charged with one felony count of unlawful dissemination of obscene material to a person under 18 years of age and one count of misconduct in office after developing an inappropriate relationship with the underage girl online, according to a SLED news release and arrest warrants.
State investigators, who were asked to investigate the case by the Sheriff's Office, determined that Meier exchanged "increasingly sexual messages that led to personal meetings" with the girl between July 14 and July 21, while Meier was on duty, the warrants said.
The messages were lewd and described female body parts and sexual acts, according to authorities.
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According to courts records, some "inappropriate touching" occurred during Meier's meetings with the girl.
Meier was fired by the Sheriff's Office on July 21 after an internal investigation, said Sgt. Robin McIntosh, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.
Meier was hired as a patrol deputy in December 2008, department officials said.
Following Meier's termination, the Sheriff's Office asked SLED to help in a criminal investigation, McIntosh said.
Meier was booked into the Beaufort County Detention Center and released about two hours later on his own recognizance, according to the county's jail log.
If convicted, Meier faces as many as 10 years in prison, according to state law.
The case will be prosecuted by 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone's office, SLED officials said.
Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/ProtectServeBft.