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Officer facing charges of molestation retires

By Times Staff Writer
Published March 10, 2005

TAMPA - Facing a disciplinary hearing in which administrators were ready to fire him because of his recent arrest on molestation charges, veteran Tampa Police officer Ernesto Hedges retired Wednesday. The move will allow him to keep his full pension benefits.

Tampa Police spokesman Joe Durkin said Hedges, an officer for the past 18 years, submitted his retirement notice Wednesday morning, hours before the scheduled hearing.

Pinellas County sheriff's investigators on Friday arrested Hedges, 49, on two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation. He was released after posting $50,000 bail, Durkin said.

The arrest stemmed from an incident Feb. 26 when Hedges was visiting a Pinellas family, according to sheriff's reports. Hedges was watching television with two girls, said Pinellas sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Tim Goodman. The girls told a family member Hedges improperly touched them, Goodman said.

[Last modified March 10, 2005, 01:13:09]

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