Modesto police sergeant arrested on suspicion of sexual molestation

bclark@modbee.comOctober 22, 2012 

Modesto Police Officer Hodges

A Modesto police sergeant was arrested late Monday night on suspicion of molesting a female family member who was under 18 years of age, authorities said. Robert Hodges (pictured), 40, who is a 15-year veteran of the Modesto Police Department, was taken into custody at a residence in Oakdale.

MODESTO POLICE DEPARTMENT

— A Modesto police sergeant is scheduled to be arraigned today after his arrest on charges of child molestation.

Robert Hodges, 40, a 15-year veteran of the department, was taken into custody at a home in Oakdale on Monday night, according to Lt. Rick Armendariz.

Police and Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department deputies arrested Hodges without incident. He was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail on charges of sexual assault, lewd and lascivious acts with a child younger than 14, and acts with a child 14 or 15 at least 10 years younger than the suspect.

He remained in jail Tuesday with bail set at $200,000.

Police were made aware Monday of "several prior sexual molestation incidents committed by an employee of the Police Department," according to Armendariz. An investigation ensued, and detectives corroborated evidence and obtained an arrest warrant.

Investigators believe the incidents took place in 2009 and 2010 when the victim was younger than 18, Armendariz said.

"I was shocked to learn of the allegations," interim Police Chief Gene Balentine said in a news release. "No person is above the law, and we will professionally investigate criminal complaints, no matter what the occupation of the suspect is."

This is the second arrest this year involving sexual charges against a current or former member of the Modesto Police Department.

In March, former officer Lee Freddie Gaines, 27, was charged with oral copulation by force, being armed with a firearm while committing a sexual offense, sexual battery and assault under color of authority. The alleged victim, a 37-year-old woman, testified to a criminal grand jury that she was working as a prostitute at a motel, where she alleges the incident took place.

Gaines is due back in court next month to set a trial date.

None of the incidents ascribed to Hodges took place while he was on duty, Armendariz said.

"We have a high expectation of our employees and will hold them accountable for their actions, whether they are on duty or off duty," Balentine said.

Specific information regarding the allegations against Hodges will not be released to protect the confidentiality of the victim and maintain the integrity of the investigation, Armendariz said.

A home just north of Modesto listed as Hodges' address in public records was empty Tuesday, with foreclosure notices in a window and padlocks on the front door. A neighbor said he did not know Hodges.

Hodges, who most recently worked patrol, was placed on paid administrative leave until the conclusion of the investigation.

The case has been forwarded to the district attorney's office. As of Tuesday afternoon, prosecutors had not filed charges.

Bee Online News Editor Brian Clark can be reached at bclark@modbee.com or (209) 578-2362.