Jail inquiry finished few details given

'Action' said to be taken against officer in sex misconduct case

Another still on leave

Facility chief, Ecker won't relate specifics of 'personnel' issue

September 19, 1996|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Howard County officials said yesterday that an eight-week investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by male officers at the county jail with a female inmate has concluded, but they failed to make good on their repeated promises to detail the inquiry's findings.

James N. Rollins, director of the 361-bed jail in Jessup, did say that a "personnel action" has been filed against one of two male correctional officers under investigation.

Both officers were put on administrative leave with pay after the investigation began. Rollins said that the second officer remains on leave.

But the jail director would not discuss the nature of the disciplinary action against the first officer or his job status, how long the second officer will remain on leave or any other aspect of the investigation.

Similarly, after vowing for weeks to make public the results of the county police investigation into the allegations, County Executive Charles I. Ecker issued a three-sentence statement yesterday about the investigation that gave few details.

"A thorough internal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct at the detention center has been completed," Ecker

wrote in the statement. "As a result, the county has taken what it feels is appropriate action. There will be no further comment since this involves matters of a personnel nature."

At issue are allegations that a male officer engaged in sexual activity with a female inmate on several occasions at the jail. The inmate told The Sun in August that she also was the subject of several unwanted sexual advances by a male sergeant at the facility.

In a telephone interview with The Sun yesterday, the sergeant named by the inmate -- speaking to a reporter for the first time -- would not say whether he had been disciplined or was still on administrative leave. But he said he expects to continue working at the jail.

The sergeant also said that he was disturbed by the way the county has handled the investigation.

"Of course I don't feel the county has dealt fairly with this issue," said the sergeant, who would not detail his complaints further. "Right now, I'm not ready to make any statement.

"I have a kid to raise and a grandchild," the sergeant added. "I try to be responsible. I don't really have a response for" the allegations of sexual misconduct.

The inquiry began in late July, after an officer reported to Rollins that male officers had been engaging in sexual activity with female inmates.

The inmate involved in the allegations told The Sun that she performed oral sex with one officer several times while she was in the jail's medical unit.

The inmate also said she was the subject of sexual advances by a jail sergeant.

In one case, she alleges that the sergeant confronted her in an intake area of the jail where she was changing her clothes for a work-release job, and demanded that she perform oral sex. The inmate said she refused.

Originally, Rollins said the investigation was going to take only a few days. But the Howard County Police Department's Internal Affairs Division took about five weeks to complete its inquiry.

Then, county officials spent the last three weeks reviewing the findings, saying they didn't want to make a hasty decision.

The sexual misconduct allegations have been one of a series of troubles at the facility.

Two jail officers -- not involved in the sexual misconduct case -- are under investigation for allegedly beating a handcuffed inmate. Marna McLendon, the county state's attorney, said a decision whether to prosecute the officers will be announced Friday.

Pub Date: 9/19/96

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