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Former Undersheriff Appears In Court In Inmate Stripes

By Matt Kroschel

LAKE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- The former Lake County Undersheriff, who was indicted by a Grand Jury related to a sexual harassment investigation, could face life in prison if convicted.

Fernando Mendoza was indicted on two counts of official misconduct, embezzlement, attempted incest and attempted sexual exploitation of a minor.

Fernando Mendoza
Fernando Mendoza (credit: CBS)

Mendoza wore orange and white prison suit, wore handcuffs and leg irons as he made a first appearance before a judge Wednesday morning in Lake County.

The judge set bond at $100,000 cash or assurity for the defendant. He was also ordered to have no contact with any children or any of the seven named victims in the case. 

His next court appearance is set for Feb. 23, 3018 at 1:30 p.m.

Fernando Mendoza2
Fernando Mendoza (credit: CBS)

Last month, the D.A.'s office announced it was investigating a complaint made in October about sexual harassment within the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

A few weeks later, Mendoza was fired after prosecutors confirmed the person being investigated was in fact Mendoza.

Assistant District Attorney Johnny Lombardi credits the victims for being brave and reporting the harassment.

"We need victims like this to come forward. We need to be able to prosecute these cases. When one victim steps forward with information like this, we investigate all crimes," said Lombardi.

Fernando Mendoza
Fernando Mendoza (credit: Lake County Sheriff's Office)

Brown told CBS4 the complaint involved female employees.

Lake County Sheriff Rodney Fenske told CBS4 that mandatory sexual harassment training for all employees was added after the allegations were made public.

Fernando Mendoza
Fernando Mendoza (credit: CBS)

"The training we take for sexual harassment is done through the police department," said Fenske.

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

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