A veteran local sheriff's deputy has been terminated amid allegations he had inappropriate sexual conduct with a woman while on duty.
According to Dawson County Sheriff's Lt. Col. John Cagle, former deputy Mark Caruana, 48, could face criminal charges in connection with the incident.
"As soon as the allegation came in, we recognized a potential crime," Cagle said. "The sheriff's office did an immediate follow-up. He was terminated immediately and the case was referred to the (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) for further investigation into criminal charges."
The GBI's investigation is ongoing.
Cagle said the complaint was filed the night of Sept. 27 by a 24-year-old woman.
The woman told officers Caruana, who had responded to a legitimate call at her home earlier in the day, returned to her house that night.
"It was then that the alleged conduct occurred," Cagle said.
He did not release specific details about the incident except that it was sexual in nature and Caruana was on duty as a patrol officer at the time.
"As soon as it was brought to our attention, we looked into the allegations and he was terminated," Sheriff Billy Carlisle said. "He was terminated immediately because of the criminal nature of the allegations."
Cagle said Caruana also violated numerous department policies and admitted to conduct unbecoming of an officer.
"The public should know the sheriff takes this kind of alleged misconduct extremely serious," Cagle said. "The alleged conduct warranted the action taken in this case."
Caruana had been with the department since December 2001. Attempts to reach him for comment were not successful.
His termination was effective Sept. 28, one day after the alleged incident.