A California Highway Patrol officer was arrested Friday and is facing sex crimes charges for his alleged conduct with at least two teen girls dating back to July 2010, authorities said.
Robert Stephano, a 44-year-old Joshua Tree resident, was taken into custody in Twentynine Palms following a seven-month investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct and child molestation, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said in a news release.
Stephano has worked for the Highway Patrol for 12 years and is assigned to the Morongo Basin Station. He also volunteered as an assistant softball coach for a Morongo Basin recreational league and assisted youth groups for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, sheriff's officials said.
He's accused of soliciting minors for various sexual acts. Investigators said they have identified two female victims, ages 14 and 17.
The district attorney's office on Friday charged Stephano with committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child between 14 and 15 years old, communicating with a minor with the intent to commit a sex crime and arranging to meet with a minor to commit a sex crime, the Sheriff's Department said.
The officer was being booked Friday night and would be held on $250,000, authorities said.
Detectives believe he could have additional victims.
Anyone with information can contact Detective James Tebbetts at 909-387-3589, or submit a tip anonymously via 800-782-7463 or www.wetip.com.