Corrections officer resigns amid sexual misconduct accusations

— A 37-year-old corrections officer with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office has resigned amid accusations that he forced a female inmate to have sex with him in a jail stairwell, molested another inmate and made sexually explicit comments to a third.

Cpl. Louis J. Aguinaga resigned on Sept. 5, not in good standing, days after he refused to provide testimony about the accusations during an internal investigation.

Aguinaga is the second Collier corrections officer to be out of a job in just over a year after allegations of sexual misconduct were reported by female inmates.

“I’m dumbfounded; completely surprised,” Sheriff Don Hunter said. “We are very intolerant of this kind of conduct.”

The investigation began in April when a 24-year-old inmate came forward, alleging that Aguinaga made an inappropriate comment to her. The Sheriff’s Office did not release the name of the inmates involved in the investigation because of the sexual nature of the allegations.

The 24-year-old inmate told authorities that on March 25, she was in a holding cell and was upset about being sentenced to eight years in prison, according to an internal investigation. She said Aguinaga asked her if it would “make you feel better” if he performed a sexual act on her.

“It felt awkward for me, ‘cause I was just being sentenced to so much time, and I was really under stress,” the 24-year-old told an investigator. “That right there made it worse.”

Days later, a 36-year-old inmate came forward and told Sheriff’s Office officials that in Nov. 2007, Aguinaga told her he wanted to perform a sex act on her, told her to unbutton her uniform, and molested her.

“He tried to touch me down between my legs, but my uniform wouldn’t open that much,” the 36-year-old said during an internal interview.

She said Aguinaga then touched himself sexually in her presence, reports said.

On May 8, a 35-year-old inmate filled out an “Inmate Request Form” requesting to talk to an investigator about Aguinaga, the Sheriff’s Office reported. She told investigators that Aguinaga forced her to have sex with him in a jail stairwell while he was escorting her back to her cell from court.

“He took me back through the stairwell and when we got to the stairwell, he opened the door and there’s a brick wall, kind of, like a little piece of a brick wall, and he pushed me up into that,” the 35-year-old inmate said. “I was telling him ‘No, no, no,’ and that’s when he started undressing me, and I was like, well, on my mind I was kind of in shock, and I just let it go.”

Two of the inmates took polygraph tests, which showed “no deception indicated.” The 36-year-old inmate was not a candidate for a polygraph examination due to a medical issue, reports said.

At least six deputies who worked with Aguinaga testified that they’d never seen him engage in any inappropriate behavior with or make sexually explicit comments to female inmates.

On Sept. 2, investigators attempted to interview Aguinaga in the presence of his attorney, Donald Day. After reviewing the case file, Aguinaga declined to provide testimony, which is against the Sheriff’s Office’s policy.

Aguinaga resigned three days later, not in good standing. Charges of improper conduct and failure to comply with an internal investigation were sustained.

Under a rule known as Garrity, law enforcement agencies can compel members to testify during an internal investigation. However, that testimony cannot be used for criminal prosecution purposes.

“There’s a body of rights on both sides here,” Hunter said.

Aguinaga started with the Sheriff’s Office in Aug. 2005 and earned $50,292 per year at the time of his resignation. Several attempts to reach him at his home and on the phone on Thursday were unsuccessful.

The Sheriff’s Office sent the cases of the 36-year-old and 35-year-old inmates to the State Attorney’s Office, which declined to prosecute. Complicating the case was the fact the 35-year-old waited more than two years to report the alleged rape, State Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Samantha Syoen said.

“She has a very, very long felony arrest record, and there are severe credibility issues,” Syoen said. “There was no evidence in either accusation for us to proceed with any type of charge.”

The Sheriff’s Office plans to forward its investigation to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission for review.

The accusations against Aguinaga are similar to those made by a female inmate against Deputy Wayne Robert Lawson in April 2007. Lawson was fired after he admitted to receiving oral sex from the inmate, though he and the inmate disagreed about who initiated the act.

None of the acts the inmates say Aguinaga performed were caught on surveillance camera. Though there are surveillance cameras in the jail, there are blind spots, and the cameras can’t catch everything, Hunter said.

The Sheriff’s Office reported that it is reviewing and hardening the security, surveillance procedures and hardware of the jail to prevent further incidents.

“What we’re going to try to do is fix the blind spots within reason,” Hunter said.

To prevent further incidents, Hunter said he is going to require at least two deputies to escort inmates from the jail to court and back


One Response

  1. An internal investigation most be then by Walter Mc.Neil in Tallahassee,Fl. his department need to do an investigating on Columbia C.I. in Lake City,Fl.on female correctional officers having sex with inmates and which female officer in Columbia C.I. that is pregnant by an inmate and also they are smuggling drugs and cell phones to inmates this is called CONTRABAND female correctional officers most be investigated for sexual impropriety and slap them with a rape. Any female officer who has become pregnant during a consensual relationship with an inmate,they need to be arrested and charged with sexual misconduct and most of all be suspended without pay and put in prison. ‘It’s a second degree felony because it ivolves a person of authority-in this case,a correctional officer we know there is a big cover up in there for this make the deparment of corrections and the inspector general look bad how many female and male correctional officers in Columbia C.I. doing big business with the inmates if only they knew how many inmates that has done business with them are about to turn them in for a time cut or some money in they accounts,speical message to the Warden you need to clean your Institution you got a lot of dirty correctional officers there are a lot of those inmates talking up a storm,the most important thing is we got the names and we are just la voz news media submitting this to all the news media. ‘SO THAT JUSTICE WILL BE DONE’ they say that the inmates are the bad guys! so what are the correctional officers in Columbia C.I. the good guys!
    Speical Thanks! To Mr. Walter Mc.Neil for doing your job your the best, many people are just hoping for you Sir to clean out Columbia C.I. in Lake City,Fl. go get those correctional officers going wrong. la voz news media Vicky Reyes

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