ORLANDO, Fla. - A former Orange County deputy is accused of performing an exorcism on a child.
Deputies say that Christopher Dougherty, 37, gave another child a rifle and told her to be ready to shoot.
The former deputy had been working at the Orange County Sheriff's Office since 2006. Orange County Sheriff John Mina says he was fired for other reasons, but considering what happened Thursday, they're also concerned about his mental health.
“While this deputy was terminated for a pattern of unsatisfactory performance, these are very serious criminal allegations,” said Sheriff John Mina. “As law enforcement officers, we are held to the highest standards of conduct whether on duty or off duty. But we are also concerned about the deputy’s mental health.”
Dougherty appeared in court Monday, charged with child abuse.
"You're arrested pursuant to a warrant," a judge told him as his first appearance.
Dougherty is accused of warning children of demons and performing an exorcism on one of them.
According to the arrest affidavit, deputies responded to Dougherty's home Thursday for a 911 call about child abuse with weapons.
When deputies got there, they say they found Dougherty armed with a gun and a female child on the floor, wearing a kevlar helmet and bulletproof vest, holding a rifle. According to the report, she was "ready to shoot anyone who entered the apartment."
Deputies say they also found a boy with a taser.
According to the arrest affidavit, the girl told deputies Dougherty told the children there were demons in the house and they needed to burn the items that were possessed.
She told deputies they had burned items in a parking lot drain and Dougherty performed an exorcism on her brother.
"You are to have no contact with any victim or witness at this time," a judge told Dougherty in court.
Dougherty was Baker Acted and taken to the hospital before he was arrested.
"I thought my son was going to be a witness though. I guess not?" Dougherty asked Monday in court.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office says Dougherty was fired Sunday for unsatisfactory performance regarding another incident.
Sheriff Mina released a statement saying, in part: "While this deputy was terminated for a pattern of unsatisfactory performance, these are very serious criminal allegations... We are also concerned about the deputy's mental health."
Dougherty bonded out of the Orange County Jail on Monday night.