MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A former Memphis Police Probationary Officer has been arrested after investigators say he sent sexually explicit messages and photos to an 8-year-old girl in California.
Andrew Hellums, 28, is charged with aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and solicitation of a minor.
Investigators say the girl's father called his local police department after finding the disturbing messages and photos on her cell phone.
“It’s very alarming. It’s very alarming and it’s just the times that we’re living in that this stuff occurs, and usually from where you least expect it," said neighbor John Bogan.
An investigation revealed that Hellums had several sexually explicit conversations with the victim from mid-November to mid-December of 2018, in which he asked her to perform sex acts and send the photos to him.
According to court records, the girl sent Hellums multiples photographs of herself "engaged in sexual acts or poses," and Hellums sent her photos of his "face and genitals."
“You would never expect that from a police officer or a priest or minister, but it can come from anywhere in this day and age," Bogan said.
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MPD tells WREG they hired Hellums in 2017, but he never made it through the probationary period to officially become an officer and was fired before this investigation even began.
WREG tracked down Hellums’ father at his home in Olive Branch Saturday, and he described his son off camera as a “fine christian man” who spent his entire life dreaming of becoming a police officer, and said his arrest came as a complete surprise.
“Just because you think that somebody wouldn’t do that, that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t. So, you just have to watch for everybody and everything," Bogan said.
Hellums will face a judge Monday morning.