Broward deputy accused of sexually assaulting child

Victim says abuse took place in late '90s in West Palm Beach

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – A Broward County sheriff's deputy was arrested last week after authorities said he sexually assaulted a child in Palm Beach County.

Verol Cowans, 58, of Port St. Lucie, faces four counts of sexual battery on a victim 12 years old or younger.

Veda Coleman-Wright, a spokeswoman for the Broward Sheriff's Office, said Cowans was arrested Thursday at his workplace, the Joseph V. Conte Jail in Pompano Beach.

Coleman-Wright said Cowans has been suspended without pay. Coleman-Wright said Cowans works as a detention deputy. He was hired in 2005, left the department for personal reasons in 2011 and was rehired in 2013.

According to the arrest report, the victim said the abuse started around 1997 when she was 7 years old. Cowans, who lived in West Palm Beach at the time, drove the girl to school and during those rides he would molest her, the report said. The abuse continued for several years, the report said.

The victim, now an adult, contacted authorities because she was concerned that Cowans could abuse other children. She told authorities she didn't report the abuse at the time because she was intimated by Cowans' role in law enforcement.

According to the report, the victim called Cowans in February in a recorded call and confronted him about the abuse. "You hurt me. You hurt me really bad," the woman told Cowans.

During the call, Cowans confessed to the abuse, the report said. "I was a sinner and I was doing crazy stuff you know all the time I was messed up," Cowans told her, according to the report. 

Cowans is currently being held without bond at Palm Beach County's Main Detention Center in West Palm Beach.

"The sexual battery charges Cowans is facing are very disturbing, and I demand lawful, honorable conduct from all BSO employees," Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said. "Any employee found guilty of a criminal offense, especially as it relates to the nature of these allegations, will be permanently removed from service."