By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Thomas Fonseca Banda, a K9 handler for Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), was arrested May 1 after an Escambia County grand jury handed up an indictment charging him with sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12.
The indictment evolved from an “extensive investigation” launched March 24 by special agents of Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), at the request of Escambia County Sheriff Heath Jackson.
SBI agents identified Banda as the suspect early in the investigation and turned their findings over to the grand jury. The indictment reads simply that Banda, being over the age of 16, “did subject to sexual contact another person … who is under the age of 12 years.”
Sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12 is a Class B felony, punishable upon conviction by a prison sentence ranging from 2 to 20 years.
Banda was released from jail shortly after his arrest when a $150,000 bond was posted on his behalf. Bond conditions include that he have no contact with his alleged victim, nor with any person under the age of 18.
He became the second ADOC employee from Atmore to be arrested for felony crimes against children within a week.
Corrections Officer Lateshia Monique Lewis Jackson, 43, was arrested April 24 by Atmore police and charged with one count of willful child abuse, a Class C felony, after she allegedly severely punished her 8-year-old stepdaughter by beating the child.