Cases of Sexual Abuse by Mississippi Jailors or Police

Sexual abuse by prison or jail staff—and even police officers on occasion—apparently is not only persistent, but widespread. A full decade after the Prison Rape Elimination Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush, sexual abuse remains rampant in correction facilities across the United States. Unfortunately, far too many—nearly half—of all the sexual assault accusations reported in American correctional facilities in 2011, were directed at prison guards or staff. In other words, the very people who are charged with protecting inmates are the ones the inmates have reason to fear.

What is equally disturbing is the fact that, among those jailors or guards who were accused of sexual abuse, less than half were prosecuted, and nearly a quarter were allowed to keep their job. In 2009, the National Rape Elimination Commission, created by Congress, released recommendation which were intended to better protect inmates and detainees from becoming victims of sexual abuse while in jail or prison. Obviously, poor prison management is a factor; prisons which are badly managed have a higher prevalence of sexual abuse, and all prisons and jails need management which puts into place effective policies which offer no tolerance for sexual misconduct by staff.

Bureau of Justice Believes Numbers are Even Higher

It can be extremely difficult for an inmate or detainee to come forward and report a case of sexual abuse by a jailor, guard, or police officer, primarily because of the fear of retaliation. The Bureau of Justice believes the numbers are even higher, stating 60 percent of allegations of sexual abuse involve staff members rather than other prisoners. Because prisons and jails are “total institutions,” prisoners cannot voluntarily consent to a sexual encounter with a staff member—who has complete and total control over the prisoner’s life.

Police Sexual Abuse—An Often Unreported Crime

According to a 2011 report in The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project, police officers were accused of sexual assault at a rate of 79 per 100,000 law enforcement officers, which is two times the rate of the general public. Even so, police sexual misconduct is a crime which often goes unreported. Victims of sex-related police crimes are, sadly, typically younger than 18 years of age. Unfortunately, the very nature of police work provides unique opportunities for some police officers to engage in acts of sexual crimes against citizens they come into contact with.

Police officers often operate on their own, free from direct supervision, and encounter vulnerable citizens—usually because those citizens are either the victim of a crime, a criminal suspect, or are perceived as “suspicious.” These citizens are then subject to the power wielded by the police officer, often during late-night hours with encounters which are low visibility to others.

Victims of police sexual abuse are much less likely to report the misconduct, because they fear retaliation or are humiliated. There are specific cases which actually rise to the level of sexual extortion, simply because the police officer has intimidated a vulnerable citizen through lies and half-truths to submit to a sexual encounter in exchange for freedom. One study suggests that police sexual abuse is a “pattern prone” offense, involving officers who commit the crime time after time, somehow escaping any penalty from the behavior, and maintaining police certification by moving from one place to another.

Just a few of the known incidents related to sexual abuse by Mississippi jailors or police include the following:

  • In 2008, at the state of Mississippi, at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, former prison guard Jennifer Readus was arrested after fleeing to Texas. Readus was charged with having sex with a male prisoner.
  • In June 2015, a Hinds County jailor was fired, then arrested after being accused by an inmate of rape. The jailor, a 57-year old man from Yazoo City, was booked into the Hinds County jail following the charges.
  • Kristin Willis was indicted on two counts of sexually abusing a prisoner in 2011. Willis was a prison guard at the Choctaw Detention Center, and received only three years’ probation after she agreed to plead guilty only to abusive sexual contact.
  • Also in 2011, Grady Sims, the former Walnut Grove Transition Center warden, was indicted for sexually assaulting a prisoner, and also for using force or intimidation against the prisoner in an attempt to cover up the sexual assault. At the time of his arrest, Sims was the mayor of Walnut Grove. Allegedly, Sims and a female prisoner went to a local motel where Sims had sex with the prisoner.

Where to Turn If You’ve Been the Victim of Sexual Abuse by Police or Jailors

If you have been the victim of sexual abuse by police, guards or jailors associated with the Southaven Police Department, the Olive Branch Police Department, the Horn Lake Police Department, the Desoto County Sheriff’s Department or the Desoto County Jail, you may be scared of coming forward and unsure of what to do. It is important to remember that you are entitled to certain protections under the United States Constitution as well as under Mississippi laws. When your rights have clearly been violated, you do have legal recourse. The Stroud Law Firm has a long history of helping those who have suffered from unspeakable actions of law enforcement and/or jail personnel. We believe strongly that you should not have to suffer such violations in silence. Call the Stroud Law Firm today at (662) 536-5656, and get answers to your questions and justice for wrongs committed.