HEPPNER - Charges have been filed against a Morrow County deputy accused of having sex with a 17-year-old girl and giving her cocaine when he worked as a technician for the Deschutes County sheriff's office.

James "Jamie" Rietmann, 29, was indicted by a grand jury this week on charges of sexual abuse and unlawfully delivering a controlled substance to a minor.

Rietmann was released from the Deschutes County Jail on Thursday after posting 10 percent of his $40,000 bail, The Bulletin newspaper reported today. His attorney could not be reached for comment.

Morrow County Sheriff Verlin Denton said this morning he is still "reeling" from the news.

"It's just bizarre," Denton said. "It just doesn't match up with what we see here."

Rietmann was hired two years ago by the Sheriff's office in Morrow County as a contract officer working exclusively in Heppner. Denton said Rietmann had since been moved to countywide patrol duties.

Rietmann has been placed on paid investigative leave until an internal investigation is completed. The Oregon State Police are handling the investigation into the charges.

Denton said he has not seen or heard anything to indicate Rietmann's behavior had ever been inappropriate in Morrow County. In fact, Rietmann was named employee of the year in 2003, Denton said.

"He's been an exemplary employee, that's why it's such a shock to us," Denton said.

The loss of Rietmann leaves the department shorthanded, Denton said, but reservists have been called to fill in.

Denton said he spoke to Rietmann about the charges and Rietmann maintained his innocence. But such charges can have drastic consequences, the sheriff said.

"Something like this can come along and put your career right down the tubes," Denton said.

Rietmann worked as a reserve deputy in Deschutes County from March 1997 to December 1998, according to state records. In January 1999, he was hired as an animal control technician. He held that job until July 2002.

His indictment is connected to the OSP investigation of former Deschutes County deputy Mike Malloy, who was indicted on sex and drug charges for his alleged involvement with two 17-year-old La Pine girls.

According to a search warrant affidavit, Malloy had sex with both 17-year-old girls, videotaped sexual acts with one of the girls and got one of them pregnant and paid cash for her abortion.

According to the indictment, Rietmann had sex with one of the 17-year-old girls.

The sheriff's office has faced other legal troubles in recent years.

Former Sheriff Greg Brown is serving time in a federal prison for embezzling money from Deschutes County and a rural fire district, and former deputy Ken Zervas was acquitted of sexual abuse and sodomy charges.

"I've got 173 (full-time employees) in this organization and we have a huge number of folks here who break their backs on a daily basis," Stiles said. "What's sad is we will be judged relating to a few headlines."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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