Arizona jail employee arrested for allegedly dating teenage girl

(Florence Police Department Photo)

PHOENIX — An employee of an Arizona correctional facility was arrested Friday on suspicion of dating a teenage girl, officials said.

The Florence Police Department said it first learned of the alleged relationship between 46-year-old Paul Thornton and a 16-year-old girl after a person reported them kissing near the Merrill Ranch area of Florence.

Police said the girl admitted to having a nearly yearlong relationship with Thornton when she was contacted by investigators. Thornton was aware of her age.

She also allegedly said they had engaged in sexual conduct since April.

Thornton was charged with four counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, a Class 6 felony. More charges could be filed.

He was booked into the Pinal County Jail.

Thornton is a captain at the Red Rocks Correctional Facility in Eloy.