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SCRJ Correctional Officer Accused of Sexually Assaulting Female Inmates

Charleston, West Virginia – On January 10, 2013 the Charleston Gazette ran a story on a South Central Regional Jail correctional officer who had allegedly sexually assaulted two female inmates in September of 2012.

The State Police charged the 22-year-old correctional officer, of Charleston, with two counts of imposition of sexual acts on incarcerated persons on Wednesday, January 9th. The defendant was arraigned in Kanawha County Magistrate Court and later released on $1,000 bail.

According to officials, this is the latest case involving correctional officers that authorities have been investigating in the past several months. The executive director of the state Regional Jail Authority, Joe DeLong says that officials will continue to review procedures and training in order to prevent future sexual assaults and other crimes from occurring.

The investigation initially began after a female inmate came forward in early December of 2012. She told South Central Jail Sergeant J.T. Binion that one of the correctional officers had sexually assaulted her and one of her former cellmates last fall.

The cellmate had been questioned about the assault earlier; however, she was afraid of telling the truth, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County.

After Binion delved deeper into the allegations and found sufficient corroborating evidence, he reported the state police trooper on December 13, 2012. The victim reported that she was assaulted during a morning routine called "razors," which is where correctional guards give razor blades to privileged inmates so they can shave, and they collect the spent razors afterwards.

The victim said that around September 25th, she noticed her cell was unlocked since the previous day's razors. She said the defendant was on razor duty both days. The defendant entered her cell and according to the complaint, stuck his hands down her pants.

After breakfast the defendant returned to the cell and allegedly sexually assaulted her cellmate. During the investigation, the second victim had already been transported to Lakin Correctional Center in Mason County; the investigator drove to Lakin to interview the second female victim. She told him that the defendant entered her cell and stood over her bunk and exposed his gentiles. He then pulled her head closer and asked her to perform oral sex. According to the complaint she was nervous and scared so she did what he said.

The defendant admitted to performing sexual acts on the two women but insisted they were consensual, according to the complaint. The correctional officer was fired on the spot when he was arrested. According to DeLong, if the correctional officer is convicted, he faces five years in prison for each charge.

DeLong went out of his way to commend Sgt. Binion and the other correctional officers who brought the cellmate's allegations to light. He said, "We have fairly significant training for our officers and we demonstrate a zero tolerance policy for any type of activity between an officer and an inmate." DeLong also said the assaults anger him and he wants the correctional officers involved to be punished to the fullest.

In May of 2012, DeLong was grilled by lawmakers about another correctional officer who was accused of sexually assaulting inmates at Southern Regional Jail. The 39-year-old correctional officer was charged with four counts of imposition of sexual acts on persons under supervision. He also faced a total of 11 civil lawsuits targeting his sexual misconduct in jail.

DeLong said that in November of 2012, 15 correctional officers at Western Regional Jail in Barboursville were suspended for using excessive force against inmates, and for bringing contraband into jail. According to DeLong, the Regional Jail Authority wants to install surveillance cameras in the jails to monitor the correctional officers; however, it will cost a significant amount of funds.

Sex crimes generally refer to non-consensual sexual contact; however, in many cases lack of consent is not a requirement as in having sex with a minor or prostitution. If you are facing allegations for any type of sex crime, we urge you to contact a Richmond sex crime attorney from The Law Office of James A. Bullard for an aggressive defense!