Escambia County Sheriff, Department Sued by Child Sex Ring Victims

PENSACOLA, Florida (WKRG) - Two children victimized sexually at the hands of their mother and step-father, who were both Escambia County Sheriffs employees at the time, have filed a federal lawsuit against Sheriff David Morgan, The Escambia County Sheriffs office and Mark Smith.  Smith is an Escambia County Deputy who was acquitted at trial of similar charges and is currently on administrative leave with the department.  Walter "Mike" Thomas, another Deputy not involved in this lawsuit, was previously convicted of three counts of sexual battery and sentenced to 30 years in prison on two counts and 15 years probation on the third count.

Leah Manning, the twin girls' mother was an ECSO Nurse at the time, and their step-father, Doug Manning who was an ECSO Deputy, have both been convicted in state court on charges of Lewd and Lascivious behavior.   The twin girls say the couple invited their friends, including Thomas and Smith, to have sex with themselves and the girls beginning in the summer of 2014.  At times, the suit contends, the Deputies were on duty and in their uniforms.

The suit claims that Sheriff David Morgan was "deliberately indifferent" to the health and safety of the sisters by "deliberately failing to investigate the reports of widespread sexual promiscuity of his servants, agents, officers and/or other employees while they were on duty and actively engaged in performing law enforcement duties."  The suit also claims that, once the sexual abuse claims were known or should have been known to Morgan,, the Sheriff failed to report the possible abuse to the Florida Department of Children and Families Abuse Hotline as required by law.

The suit also alleges that the Escambia County Sheriffs Office "engaged in a pattern and practice of allowing its servants, agents, officers, and/or other employees, including Defendant Smith and officer Thomas, to engage in sexual conduct while on duty..."

Although found not guilty in a jury trial in 2016, the suit reasserts the allegation that Mark Smith engaged in sexual activity with the girls.

Doug and Leah Manning were apprehended at a Florence, Colorado campground after two weeks on the run in March of 2015.


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