San Diego County deputy arrested on molestation charges

SAN DIEGO -- A San Diego sheriff's deputy who once faced indefinite suspension for putting a handcuffed inmate in a chokehold has been arrested in Riverside on suspicion of molesting a child.

40-year-old Santee resident Sam Thomas Knight is being held on $65,000 bail on suspicion of committing lewd and lascivious acts on a child and annoying or molesting children, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department told FOX 5 that their Perris station received information about a sexual assault on a minor in July of 2016, identified Knight as the suspect and arrested him in San Diego without incident.

He was taken to Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta for the listed charges.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department said that the agency was aware of the investigation from the beginning and had cooperated with Riverside detectives.

"It is clear that Sheriff Gore felt that Mr. Knight should not be a Deputy Sheriff," said Lt. Karen Stubkjaer, in reference to Sheriff Bill Gore's attempts to remove Knight from the force after the chokehold incident, "and the Sheriff's Department did everything possible to ensure that was in fact the case."

Knight has been relieved of his peace officer powers and placed on leave, a department spokeswoman told U-T.

Knight had come under scrutiny in 2014 when he was suspended for using an inappropriate neck hold to force a handcuffed jail inmate to the floor, the newspaper reported.

He appealed the suspension to the county civil service commission, which determined it was unwarranted and ordered he be reinstated.

Sheriff Gore sued that commission in hopes of getting the decision overturned, but a Superior Court judge upheld the original decision.