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Two Border Patrol agents have been put on paid leave after audience members complained they engaged in a sex act while attending a Cirque du Soleil theater performance in San Diego County.
Kallie Helwig, 24, and Gerald Torello, 35, were in the audience watching the show under a circus tent at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on March 27. They were off-duty at the time and were not in uniform, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
Spectators told sheriff’s deputies they saw the two touching each other inappropriately.
“According to the reporting party, they believed that the two folks, the suspects, were engaging in inappropriate behavior while sitting in stands with families around them,” sheriff’s Lt. Kenn Nelson told msnbc.com.
One witness told NBCSanDiego.com that the pair appeared to be engaging in oral sex. The witness, who asked not to be named, said she told the two to stop but they didn’t. She said two children turned around and also saw the couple in the compromising position. The male agent gave one of the children a high-five as this was happening, the witness said.
The couple eventually stopped when an usher approached, the witness said.
After the performance, as the crowd was exiting, Helwig allegedly punched one of the complaining patrons in the face, Nelson said.
"My vision went black, and that was the last thing I felt," the patron told NBC San Diego.
Sheriff’s deputies arrived. Helwig was cited for misdemeanor battery. Torello was taken to the sheriff's substation in Encinitas, cited for public intoxication and released.
“This is not an everyday call,” Nelson said.
“This call was handled exactly as it would have been with any other citizen. The fact that these folks were with the Border Patrol had no influence on how the call was handled.”
The Customs and Border Patrol released the following statement about the incident:
“All Customs and Border Protection (CBP) employees are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner while on or off duty. CBP stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission, and the overwhelming majority of CBP employees and officers perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe. CBP takes every allegation of misconduct seriously and fully cooperates in the investigation of such allegations. Presently, the two employees in question have been assigned administrative duties.”
Both agents have been with the Customs and Border Patrol since 2008.
Helwig and Torello could not immediately be reached by telephone for comment on Tuesday.
Msnbc.com's James Eng and NBCSanDiego.com contributed to this report.
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