City police investigaton follows reports of inmate ‘flasher’

June 10, 2013
Exterior of Washington County Correctional Facility - Jim McNutt O-R

The chairman of the Washington County prison board said officials of the jail, rather than handling a matter internally, requested that city police investigate instances of a female inmate exposing herself to employees within the facility.

Washington police made public the nature of their investigation into a series of situations involving three officers or staff members at Washington County Correctional Facility.

According to a police report released Friday, corrections officers found sexually explicit material while conducting the search in the cell of a female inmate that seemed to be aimed at a corrections officer. The notes, which read, “You owe me,” suggested that staff members might have engaged in unlawful activity.

Investigators interviewed three unidentified corrections officers at the facility, who denied having any physical contact or inappropriate communication with the 19-year-old inmate. However, the officers admitted that they had witnessed the prisoner “perform” for numerous officers and that she had “flashed” staff members.

Officers interviewed by the investigators said the prisoner’s “sexual exploits” were well known by staff members and often done in full view of security cameras. One officer said he had requested female nursing staff members to intervene to help stop the inmate’s actions.

Prison board Chairman Larry Maggi said he became aware of the situation Friday. The county ruled out an internal investigation, but Maggi emphasized that the city police probe “was a self-initiated investigation.”

Maggi said he has not seen the surveillance video to which the city police report refers.

“While this may sound humorous to someone reading news reports about it, you have corrections officers who have to deal with and protect themselves from the situation,” Maggi said.

“I’m trying to put it as gentle and sensitive as I can, but there are problems that occur while working in a correction facility that have to do with aberrant behavior of an inmate.”

The prison board chairman, who is a former state trooper and county sheriff, said the inmate’s conduct “happened more than a couple of times, but I don’t know what the time frame on it was.”

Both the inmate and corrections personnel interviewed denied any sexual acts were performed. One officer said he would “ignore her” because “if no one paid attention to her she would quit.”

The report concluded that the “incidents of suspected criminal activity by staff are unfounded at this point.” City detectives closed the investigation and turned the findings over to the warden.

Warden John Temas on Monday labeled his role as reviewing the situation as a personnel matter.

“I’ll be looking into this to be sure the staff acted appropriately,” Temas said. He intends to see if there were any policy or procedural violations and ensure that staff members responded correctly.

The prisoner, who is awaiting trial, is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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