Sheriff’s deputy accused of touching female inmates

A Saline County Jail corrections officer was fired and arrested Monday after he was accused of touching three female inmates.

Eric A. Taylor, 27, Bridgeport, had worked for the sheriff’s office for two years, but Sheriff Glen Kochanowski said he did not believe this had been a pattern of behavior.



“As far as we know, this was a one-time event,” he said. “It’s something that should never happen, but it happens.”

Kochanowski said the three inmates were housed together. Taylor allegedly touched them in a sexual way June 24. When the sheriff’s office received information about the allegations, an internal affairs investigation and a sheriff’s office criminal investigation were launched simultaneously.

Kochanowski said the information about what was alleged to have occurred did not come from the inmates, but he refused to identify the source of that information.

Although Kochanowski had not talked to the women involved, he said that, in general, inmates tend to fear retaliation if they share information that might reflect poorly on a corrections officer.

“When you’re incarcerated like that, you always fear bringing something forward that gets someone else in trouble,” he said. “Inmates are no different than anybody else. They’re just people. They may wonder, ‘What are they going to do to get even?’ ”

The internal affairs investigation, conducted by Lt. Alyssa LeClair, showed that Taylor had violated in-house policies and procedures in ways that were grounds for dismissal, Kochanowski said. Taylor was fired at 11:30 a.m. Monday.

The criminal investigation, conducted by Investigator Matt Fischer, concluded that there was probable cause to arrest Taylor on three felony charges of unlawful sexual relations by a law enforcement officer with an inmate over the age of 16, Kochanowski said.

Taylor was taken into custody at 4:40 p.m., when he drove to the jail and turned himself in. Taylor immediately posted bond and was released, Kochanowski said.

According to the Bureau of Justice National Inmate Survey for 2007, about 1.6 percent of inmates in county jails — 12,100, nationwide — reported inappropriate sexual contact with another inmate, and 2 percent — 15,200 — reported an incident involving sexual contact with a staff member.


Juvenile prison staffer charged with having sex with inmate

A staff member at a Snoqualmie juvenile prison who is accused of having sex with a female inmate has been charged with custodial sexual misconduct.

Robert Fox, who worked as an intermittent staff member at Echo Glen Children’s Center, faces up to a year in jail if convicted of the felony, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. Fox, 38, will be arraigned on July 10.

The 19-year-old inmate told investigators that Fox came into her room on May 6 and had sex with her, according to court charging papers filed late last week. The girl is in prison for burglary, theft and forgery.


Former Sacramento County inmate’s suit alleges jail rape

A 39-year-old woman who was an inmate at the Sacramento County Main Jail has sued the county and five individuals, claiming she was repeatedly raped by a lesbian sheriff’s deputy.

The divorced mother of two spent nearly 3½ years in the jail, charged with submitting a fraudulent insurance claim, attempted grand theft and failure to appear. She was sentenced June 11 to four years and eight months and paroled the next day, never serving a day in prison.

Her lawsuit was filed Monday by attorney Stewart Katz in U.S. District Court. The Bee is not naming the plaintiff because she claims to be a victim of sexual assault.

Deputy Paula Sue Wood, 42, is described in the complaint as “a pathologically aggressive lesbian … who, at her request, was assigned to work at a female housing unit in the main jail. She had successfully resisted several suggestions that she change assignments.”

An inmate reported what was going on in January 2007, and an inquiry by jail staff was undertaken, the suit says. “No one attempted to speak to (the plaintiff) during the course of this investigation,” it charges. “Not only was Deputy Wood quickly cleared, but apparently the reporting inmate received discipline for bringing a false complaint against an officer.”

But three months later a former jail inmate reported the situation to the internal affairs unit at the Sheriff’s Department.

The deputy was placed on administrative leave in late April 2007, and eventually allowed to resign. She was charged with having sex with an inmate, pleaded no contest, and was adjudged guilty May 28 by a Superior Court judge.

Wood was sentenced Wednesday to 90 days in a work furlough program, meaning she can leave the jail to go to her place of employment and report back when she is not working. Following her completion of the program, she will be on unsupervised probation for three years.

She was ordered by Superior Court Judge Stacy Boulware Eurie to stay away from the victim.

Wood refused to talk to a reporter after the hearing.

The suit says the plaintiff first had an awareness Wood “was becoming obsessed with her when, while in the control room of her housing unit, Deputy Wood held up a sign stating, ‘You fascinate me.'”

Wood coerced the heterosexual victim into having sex in August 2006, the suit says. She estimates that between then and April 2007 she was compelled more than 20 times to engage in sex with Wood.

The suit seeks an unspecified amount of monetary damages. In addition to the county and Wood, it names as defendants former Deputy Clement M. Tang; Sheriff John McGinness; Capt. Scott Jones, who has been the jail commander since January 2007; and Chief Deputy Mark Iwasa, who preceded Jones at the jail.

The 54-year-old Tang, described in the complaint as “an opportunistic heterosexual,” is accused of French kissing (the plaintiff) “while she was the sole occupant of a holding cell awaiting a court appearance.”

Reached Tuesday by phone at his south Sacramento County home, Tang declined to comment. Tang, a 27-year veteran of the department, retired when faced with the allegations.

The lawsuit contends that the Sheriff’s Department “has a custom and practice of dismissing reports of inappropriate coercive sexual acts by deputies of either gender, whether in the jail or elsewhere, as being consensual conduct.”

However, where once there was a stream of lawsuits over inmate treatment, they have been scarce since McGinness assumed command of the Sheriff’s Department two years ago and put Jones in charge of the jail.

McGinness and Jones defended the department’s handling of the allegations against the deputy.

“Every time we heard this might be going on, we investigated,” McGinness said. “When we were able to get hard evidence, we moved swiftly to rectify the problem.”