FLINT (WJRT) — A Genesee County sheriff's deputy is accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman he arrested for shoplifting at the Walmart store in Clio.
Deputy George Zofchak II had been dispatched to the store with another deputy on Christmas Eve, where they arrested a male suspect inside the loss prevention office for shoplifting.
He then removed the man's girlfriend from her vehicle in the parking lot, according to Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton. Zofchak handcuffed the woman and put her in the back of his patrol car.
Sheriff Robert Pickell believes Zofchak had probable cause to arrest the woman for shoplifting. Zofchak instructed another deputy to bring the male suspect to the Genesee County Jail and then took the woman to a local hotel where she was staying.
“When Zofchack did that, he made a decision that he was going to betray the trust of this office and take advantage of her," Pickell said. "Back at the hotel, he removed the handcuffs and sexually assaulted her ... he threw her to the bed and proceeded to grope and grab at her."
Zofchak left the woman with explicit instructions not to tell anyone what happened, Pickell said.
The victim's sister called the sheriff's office on Christmas Day to report the allegations against Zofchak.
He has been charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and misconduct in office. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of the most serious charges.
"Nobody is above the law and that especially includes sworn police officers," Leyton said. "The public expects and relies on law enforcement to protect us from the criminal element. When the roles are reversed, the public trust is broken."
Zofchak has worked for the sheriff's office for 11 years and has "no blemishes" on his disciplinary record, Pickell said.
He pointed out he has fired 70 people since he became sheriff 20 ago and he takes any allegations of improper behavior by any law enforcement official as a betrayal of trust.
“When he made the decision to bring the woman back to her hotel, he betrayed the trust of everyone,” Pickell said.
Zofchak is being lodged in the Lapeer County Jail on a $600,000 cash or surety bond. Pickell said he requested the most serious charges possible in the case.
“There’s no special treatment for anyone in my office or anywhere else who betrays the trust," he said.
“I don’t play. This isn’t a game," Pickell added. "We’re playing with people’s lives.”
Zofchek is jailed outside the county because the shoplifting suspect and other suspects he has arrested are still in the Genesee County Jail. Keeping Zofchak in Genesee County could compromise those cases, Pickell said.
“We’re treating this case very, very sternly,” he said.