A former sheriff's deputy in the Florida Panhandle is heading to prison after his conviction on sex charges involving a teenage girl.
Circuit Judge John L. Miller sentenced 44-year-old Walter Michael Thomas Monday to 30 years in prison followed by 15 years of sex offender probation.
Thomas was found guilty in August of three counts of unlawful sex with a minor.
He's maintained his innocence. The Pensacola News Journal reports his wife, parents and children were among those who told the judge Thomas isn't the kind of man to commit the crimes he was convicted of.
Miller said Thomas ``violated'' someone he was sworn to protect. Prosecutors say Thomas and two others engaged in group sex with the underage girl in 2014. The other two adults testified against Thomas