Authorities in Tennessee say a former police officer is facing criminal charges related to alleged child sex abuse.
According to WMC, 28-year-old Andrew Hellums had been an officer with the Memphis Police Department since March 2017 and allegedly sparked an online communication with an 8-year-old girl in California at some point since then.
Her father reportedly contacted authorities after finding evidence of the allegedly inappropriate conversations.
As police reports indicate, Hellums was arrested on suspicion of criminal counts including aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and solicitation sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means.
The suspect allegedly sent multiple messages to the young girl, asking her to perform sex acts and send him photographs of herself. Investigators claim he also sent her images of himself.
Court documents allege the girl was “engaged in sexual acts or poses” in photos she sent to Hellums and he responded with images of his “face and genitals.”
According to a statement from the Memphis Police Department, Hellums had been terminated as an officer even before a probe into the current allegations began.
Officials cited “his failure to satisfy the probationary process” as the agency’s reason for firing him.
WREG spoke to a neighbor who said he was shocked to hear of the disturbing claims against Hellums.
“It’s very alarming,” John Bogan said. “It’s very alarming and it’s just the times that we’re living in that this stuff occurs, and usually from where you least expect in.”
Hellums’ father portrayed him as a “fine Christian man,” expressing dismay in response to his arrest.
[Featured image: Andrew Hellums, Memphis Police Department]