A Montgomery County police officer was suspended with pay yesterday after being arrested and charged with abusing and raping his 12-year-old daughter, officials said.

The officer, a six-year member of the force based in the Germantown district, was arrested early yesterday at his family's Damascus home and charged with child abuse, second-degree rape, third-degree sex offense and incest.

The officer, whose name The Washington Post has agreed not to disclose to protect the child's identity, was held at the Montgomery County Detention Center in Rockville and later released on $50,000 bond after his wife posted their home as collateral.

A preliminary Montgomery County District Court hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 3, but State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said yesterday that the officer could be indicted by a grand jury before that date. The most serious charge against the officer, second-degree rape, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The child told school officials Monday that since the summer of 1998, when she was 11 years old, her father had repeatedly fondled her breasts and forced her to engage in intercourse, according to court documents. The abuse occurred regularly until last month, the child told officials.

The child was taken to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, where an examination confirmed she had been sexually abused, officials said. School officials and clergy are mandated by law to report such cases to the police immediately.

A restraining order was placed on the officer, and the child remains at the family's home with her mother, who sources said had no previous knowledge that her daughter was abused.

Investigators said they have no indication that the officer's younger child, a son, was also abused.

Police Chief Charles A. Moose immediately suspended the officer with pay and said he did not know whether the officer had participated in department-sanctioned programs for youths. Moose said there is no indication that other youths were abused.

Moose said that because the case involves a police officer, "it will gather more attention. But he is a citizen and he has every right to a fair process."

Prosecutors, Gansler said, are checking how many pending criminal cases might hinge on the officer's testimony and how to get around putting him on the witness stand. If the officer were to testify, prosecutors would have to disclose the charges against him.

Staff writer Katherine Shaver and researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.