Charges were recently brought against a former Utah prison guard for sexually harassing a female inmate. The abuse allegedly occurred in the Wasatch County jail, near Salt Lake City, while the guard was alone with the woman as well as in front of other jail employees.
An investigation into the matter was started when a source outside of the jail reported the sexual abuse. Investigators then questioned the inmate and a number of criminal charges were ultimately brought against the former deputy sheriff.
The guard was charged with counts of "deprivation of rights under color of law," charges reserved for prosecutors, judges and members of law enforcement agencies who abuse their authority. If the guard is held guilty of the crimes he is charged with, he may face life in prison and a fine of $250,000.
But the legal action does not end there. The female inmate is also seeking civil damages against the deputy and prison officials. Her complaint states that the actions of the deputy violated her rights under the Fourth Amendment, Eighth Amendment and Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. She further alleges that the deputy's conduct amounts to assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The inmate's complaint also names the county and sheriff's department, asserting that proper safeguards were not in place to protect inmates from such conduct. Possible safeguards include monitoring devices and mechanisms, and policies and procedures that aim to prevent and reveal misconduct by prison guards.
Prison officials state that they have reason to believe that the complaints are true. Since the investigation began, another female inmate has also come forward with similar charges against the same prison guard.
Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, "Ex-Wasatch County jailer pleads not guilty to sex assaults on inmates," Melinda Rogers, April 25, 2012.