A now-suspended Kennett Square police officer faces more than 500 counts of sex offenses against three girls, 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 taken to the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, where he waived extradition Friday, authorities said.
Chester County detectives said he would be returned to the county for arraignment after paperwork is completed.
Prosecutors said the county's Child Abuse Unit began an investigation in August after receiving complaints from the three alleged victims, who were all younger than 14 when the alleged abuse began. They said Santiago repeatedly victimized them, usually at his previous home in Toughkenamon.
The assaults occurred from 1992 through 2000 for periods ranging from two to seven years, Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Callahan said. Investigators found two other alleged victims but the statute of limitations for those allegations has expired, Callahan said.
Kennett Square Mayor Matthew Fetick said he was "disappointed to hear of these serious allegations" but said he had "no information that any of the alleged crimes were committed while he [Santiago] was on duty or in Kennett Square."
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 news release 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.
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 T. Cordone, 36, of West Grove, an eight-year member of the force, resigned in March after being charged with drug offenses.