VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office (VBSO) has awarded a Medal of Merit to Deputy Demarius Lee for preventing the sexual assault of a minor. 

In October, Deputy Lee was working security at a school sporting event when he noticed multiple students running back and forth between sports stands and the bathroom. He also heard the boys be reprimanded for an inappropriate conversation about a girl. 

Deputy Lee then made his way to the men’s restroom, where he found several underaged individuals in one stall. Among them were two boys and a girl.

Lee called nearby deputies and a school administrator, who discovered that the young woman had been pulled into the restroom against her will, and that the boys had been recording her with a phone.  

“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.” 

Deputy Lee has worked for the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Department since 2020 and works in civil process. The Medal of Merit is one of VBSO’s highest awards and is only awarded to appointees who go above and beyond what is expected of them.   

“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.”