San Diego firefighter charged with having sex with underage girl

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SAN DIEGO -- A San Diego firefighter who allegedly had sex with a 17-year-old girl was charged Monday with four felony sexual assault counts.

Justin Curtis Price, 35,  a fire engineer-paramedic who has been with the city public-safety agency for 10 years, was taken into custody a week ago for the alleged Nov. 1 sexual encounter. It is unclear why he was only charged last week.

Prosecutors allege that Price had known the teen since she was around 9 or 10 years old, according to Deputy District Attorney Jessica Coto. The victim  is described in court documents as a special needs teenager.

Price, who's out of custody on $100,000 bail, faces five years in state prison if convicted of one count each of unlawful sex with a minor and sexual penetration with a foreign object, and two counts of oral copulation with a minor, Coto said.

He's been placed on unpaid leave from the fire department.

In a prepared statement released following Price's arrest, San Diego Fire Chief Colin Stowell said he "strongly condemn(s) the alleged behavior and will not tolerate any actions that compromise the high standards required of all fire-department employees."

"These men and women will continue to uphold the paramount principles of safety and security for all San Diegans and will do so with the integrity expected of all city of San Diego employees," Stowell said.

Price will remain suspended "pending the completion of an internal investigation," according to the chief.

Price is due back in court June 12 for a readiness conference.

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