A Santa Rosa County deputy was arrested Tuesday on charges of sexual battery, a first-degree felony.
John Mitchell Tomlinson, 46, of Navarre, a lieutenant with the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office and former supervisor of District 2, which includes Navarre, was arrested after a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation resulted in his being charged with 120 counts of sexual battery on a child between the ages of 12 and 18.
“If these allegations are true I will be very disappointed in Lt. Tomlinson’s behavior,” said Santa Rosa Sheriff Wendell Hall. “However, if he’s found guilty he should be punished like any other person that commits this type of crime.”
The FDLE would not release details of its investigation at press time. However, Marc Ward, public information officer for the sheriff’s office, said Tomlinson was a “very well-respected officer with more than 20 years of service.”
“(The SRSO) was investigating a totally unrelated situation when information (about Tomlinson's alleged crimes) came to our attention,” Ward said. “We immediately went to the sheriff, who turned it over to the FDLE.”
The sheriff’s office does not conduct investigations of its own employees in order to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest.
Tomlinson was ordered on administrative leave until he is either found innocent or guilty of the charges.
Tomlinson served as the sheriff’s District 2 supervisor from 1989 until March 2005, when he was transferred to Districts 4 and 5. At the time of his arrest, he was in charge of courthouse security.
Tomlinson was booked into the Santa Rosa County Jail. His bond was set at $845,000.
The Office of State Attorney William “Bill” Eddins, 1st Judicial Circuit, assisted in the investigation and will prosecute the case.