By Kim Minugh
A 39-year-old man employed by the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department as an "on-call" deputy has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl at a Lincoln hotel, according to authorities.
Eric Cephus was taken into custody late Tuesday night in San Jose, said Lincoln police acting Chief Paul Shelgren.
He was booked into the Santa Clara County jail on suspicion of lewd or lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14 and transporting to commit rape, Shelgren said. He is expected to arrive in Placer County this afternoon.
Police began investigating Cephus on Feb. 27, after a Lincoln patrol officer came across the girl walking in the area of Ferrari Ranch Road and Joiner Parkway in the early morning, Shelgren said.
The girl was "pretty forthcoming about what happened" hours earlier, Shelgren said.
He said detectives suspect that Cephus met the girl "through the course of his employment," but declined to elaborate.
Shelgren said the girl was not brought to Lincoln against her will. It's unclear to detectives at this point whether the sex was forced; however, Shelgren said he found it hard to imagine a scenario in which sex with a 13-year-old girl would be consensual.
In addition to the two sex-related charges, Shelgren told The Bee earlier today that Cephus had been arrested on suspicion of engaging in an act of prostitution. However, he said this afternoon that detectives did not have enough evidence to support such a charge.
He declined to say whether the girl characterized herself as a prostitute or whether Cephus paid her.
Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness confirmed that Cephus is employed as an "on-call" deputy sheriff, although he is on administrative leave because of the arrest. He said Cephus had been employed as a full-time deputy sheriff until he was laid off in August as a result of department-wide budget cuts.
At the time he was laid off, Cephus had been employed by the Sheriff's Department for a "couple years," McGinness said.
Cephus lives in San Jose with his girlfriend and the couple's son, according to their babysitter, who spoke briefly to The Bee but did not give her name. A message for Cephus' girlfriend, left with the babysitter, has not been returned.