A now-suspended Kennett Square officer faces more than 500 counts of sex offenses against three victims, one as young as 10, the Chester County District Attorney's Office said Friday.
Jose Manuel Santiago, 54, was arrested Thursday by New Castle County police at his home in Newark, Del., and was taken to the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution to await extradition, said Kennett Square Mayor Matthew Fetick.
Prosecutors said the county's Child Abuse Unit began an investigation in August after receiving complaints from the three alleged victims, who said they were repeatedly victimized by Santiago, usually at his residence, which was in Toughkenamon. The assaults occurred from 1991 through 2000, they said.
"We have no information that any of the alleged crimes were committed while he was on duty or in Kennett Square," said Fetick, adding that he had been given only a brief description of the charges.
Santiago, who was hired in 1998, has been on disability since December 2008 for a nonwork injury and has not performed his duties as an officer since then, a borough statement said. He was suspended with pay in accordance with union and civil-service regulations while an internal investigation is conducted, the release said.
Court records show more than 100 counts each of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and endangering the welfare of children. Santiago is also charged with multiple counts of statutory rape, aggravated indecent assault, and statutory sexual assault.
"I am discouraged and disappointed to hear of these serious allegations," Fetick said in the news release. "I will update the community as more information is known and as permitted without violating the rules of disclosure regarding personnel issues."
In the minutes from the Borough Council meeting on March 17, 2008, Santiago, a patrol officer, was commended for assisting the FBI and Wilmington police with a kidnapping case on his own time.
Santiago is the second Kennett Square officer arrested in less than three months. Matthew Cordone resigned in March after being charged with drug offenses.