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Benton Co. fire dept sued for sexual abuse of young girl in junior firefighter program

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A lawsuit filed today in Benton County Circuit Court alleges that a teen girl was the victim of repeated child sex abuse while participating in a Junior Firefighter program.

The lawsuit alleges that Monroe Rural Fire Protection District firefighter Carlos Garcia, who was also a coach at the local public high school at the time, abused the victim when she was 14 and 15 years old.

The abuse is said to have occurred at the fire station while the victim was participating in the Junior Firefighter program, where Garcia was acting as the girl's supervisor.

The lawsuit also alleges that leadership within the Monroe Rural Fire Protection District knew about child sex abuse in the program, but failed to investigate the allegations, violating mandatory reporting laws by failing to report the suspected abuse to authorities.

The suit alleges claims of negligence and infliction of emotional distress against the Monroe Rural Fire Protection District. The lawsuit also alleges that the victim has “suffered and will continue to suffer severe and debilitating physical, mental, and emotional injury.”

The suit seeks $3.5 million in damages.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Garcia's arrest.

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