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VBSO deputy awarded Medal of Merit for preventing sexual assault of a juvenile

The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office recently awarded a Medal of Merit to Deputy Demarius Lee for intervening to prevent a possible sexual assault of a juvenile in a bathroom at a school sporting event.

The award stems from an October incident that occurred when Deputy Lee was working security at the event. He observed three male juveniles acting suspiciously, running back and forth between the stands and the bathroom. He also overheard an adult tell the boys that their conversation about a female juvenile was inappropriate.

Deputy Lee decided to investigate and responded to the men’s restroom, where he found several juveniles locked inside one of the stalls. He ordered them to exit the stall and discovered that it was occupied by two males and one female. He immediately called the school administrator and nearby deputies for assistance. During the course of the investigation, the young woman reported that she had been pulled into the restroom against her will and that the boys had recorded their interactions inside the stall on a cellphone.

“Deputy Lee’s situational awareness and initiative stopped a bad situation and prevented it from escalating,” said Undersheriff Brian Struzzieri. “He protected a young girl and is deserving of one of our highest honors, the Medal of Merit.”

Lee has been a VBSO deputy for two years and works in Civil Process.

“Deputy Lee displayed a keen awareness to unusual behavior in a crowded, busy setting. Whereas such behavior would elude the attention of many, it did not escape the attention of Deputy Lee,” his supervisor wrote in his nomination for the award. “Deputy Lee upheld the highest standards of the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office while truly serving the citizens of our community.”

The Medal of Merit is one of the VBSO’s highest honors and is awarded to appointees who demonstrate a high degree of personal initiative and distinguish themselves by performing their duties in a manner that clearly exceeds what is normally required or expected.

In order to protect the identities of the juveniles involved, the VBSO will not be releasing additional details about the incident, including the location or the schools involved.

Questions or requests for additional information from the news media should be directed to Public Information Officer Toni Guagenti at or 757-385-8446 or Strategic Communications Consultant Kathy Hieatt at or 757-570-9123.