Former Mississippi police officer indicted on charge of fondling child

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SENATOBIA, Miss. — Arthur Avant's reputation is going from bad to worse. Tate County law enforcement sources say he turned himself in Friday night after he was indicted on one count of fondling a child.

The indictment was obtained by WREG this week. According to the document, Avant touched a child under the age of 16 inappropriately back in December 2009.

The former Senatobia police officer was fired last year amid allegations of inappropriate contact with three underage girls who are now adults. In one case, he's accused of sending indecent pictures of himself to a girl.

Avant was a D.A.R.E. officer with the department for 20 years, meaning he constantly worked with kids and taught them how to lead a drug-free lifestyle. He's accused of using that access to manipulate his alleged victims.

All of this was part of a Tate County Sheriff's Office investigation that started after the allegations came to light.

"I mean, it's just wrong," says Sandy Brechin. She's worked by the police department for 13 years. She's disgusted by the allegations, if true.

"Anybody that would take advantage of a child is, you know, they need help themselves," she says.

Still, she says Avant deserves his day in court.

"I just, you know, feel that anybody is innocent until they're proven guilty," Brechin says, "If he's guilty than he deserves, you know, whatever the law says he deserves."

Avant was hired as a deputy with the Tunica County Sheriff's Office earlier this year, despite all the controversy. In light of his indictment, we called to see if he's still working there but we haven't heard back.

We'll let you know when Avant makes his first court appearance.

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