Sutter County Jail Commander Lewis McElfresh Jr. was arrested suspicion of child abuse.

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Wednesday, ‎December ‎17, ‎2014
Sutter County Jail commander arrested on suspicion of child abuse

Sutter County Jail Commander Lewis McElfresh Jr. was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of child abuse.

McElfresh, 57, was booked into Sutter County Jail. As he was arranging to post bail, originally set at $50,000, it was increased to $5 million, according to Sheriff J. Paul Parker. McElfresh was to be moved to another facility.

Yuba City police detectives received information about the allegations on Monday. McElfresh was booked on suspicion of violating a code section of child abuse, which states in summary, that a person willfully causes or permits any child to suffer, or inflicts, physical pain or mental suffering.

The alleged victim is a girl older than 14 years of age related to McElfresh.

That charge is punishable by imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, or in state prison for two, four or six years.

McElfresh was arrested while at work in the Sutter County Sheriff’s Department at 2:45 p.m.

“Enough information was developed that led our detectives to make the arrest,” said police spokeswoman Shawna Pavey. “(He) was questioned subsequent to the arrest.”

Parker said information about the allegation originated in the Sheriff’s Office.

“After we reviewed it and did an initial investigation, to avoid a conflict of interest and for jurisdiction reasons, we gave it to Yuba City,” Parker said.

He said they received the information last week.

Parker said if McElfresh remained in custody he would be moved to another jail, likely to Yolo County.

McElfresh could not be moved to the Colusa County Jail, Parker said, because “there is a guy in Colusa County that may have a nexus to this case.”

Last week, a defendant in a child sex case, Donny Pauling, was moved to Colusa County Jail after investigators were told Pauling may have assaulted a second victim who is related to a Sheriff’s Office employee.

Parker would not comment when asked if McElfresh’s arrest is connected to Pauling’s case.

McElfresh was placed on administrative leave, pending conclusion of an internal review.

Yuba City police will continue the criminal investigation, while the Sheriff’s Department conducts an internal review, Parker said.

District Attorney Amanda Hopper said she will decide whether her office will review the case based on the investigation.

“What happens once we see the report will determine what we do with it,” Hopper said. “We’ve prosecuted law enforcement officers before.”

Her office would hand the case up to the state if there were a conflict affecting its ability to give him a fair trial, Hopper said.

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