SAN JOSE -- A veteran San Mateo County sheriff's deputy made his first court appearance Monday in San Jose on charges he molested a 17-year-old female family member over a six year-period.
Galen Underwood, 40, was arraigned on seven felony counts, including continuous sexual abuse of a child and forced oral copulation, said Stuart Scott, the Santa Clara County prosecutor handling the case. Underwood, a Gilroy resident, remains in the county jail after a judge set his bail at $2 million.
Underwood has been a San Mateo sheriff's deputy since 2005, most recently handling patrol duty in unincorporated areas of Redwood City and Menlo Park. He has been on disability leave the past few months, according to Deputy Rebecca Rosenblatt, a department spokeswoman.
As a result of the criminal charges, the sheriff's department has placed Underwood on paid administrative leave and is cooperating with Santa Clara County law enforcement officials. He was booked into the county jail last Thursday, when San Mateo officials learned of the charges.
Santa Clara County prosecutors allege that Underwood has been sexually assaulting the girl since she was 11 years old, with the incidents taking place in family locations in Morgan Hill and Mountain View. The allegations were reported to authorities when the girl, now 17, disclosed the details to a school counselor, according to Scott.
Underwood faces up to 58 years in prison if convicted of the felonies, although prosecutors say he could receive more prison time if other charges surface.
Richard Pointer, a San Jose lawyer representing Underwood, could not be reached for comment Monday. Underwood is scheduled to next appear in Superior Court on Oct. 15.
Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at Twitter.com/hmintz.