A female jailer at the Cook County Jail was arrested and charged with felony custodial sexual misconduct recentlyafter an internal investigation allegedly confirmed the jailer had sexual contact with an inmate. The arrest was part of an ongoing operation by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office to uncover corruption and inappropriate conduct at the jail.
Sexual Misconduct with Chicago Inmate
You may be wondering how it is possible that sexual contact between two consenting adults be a criminal offense – and a felony, no less. The answer lies in the fact that the jailer is in a position of authority over the inmate. Much like doctors, psychologists, lawyers, or any other professional in a position of trust and/or authority over another cannot have sexual relations with their patient/client, a prison guard is in a position of authority over all inmates, and the law deems the inmate incapable of granting consent to any type of sexual act.
The defendant is charged with custodial sexual misconduct. A prison guard or other penal system employee commits custodial sexual misconduct if she engages in sexual conduct or sexual penetration with a person in custody. Note that penetration is not necessary to be convicted of custodial sexual misconduct. Any type of sexual conduct – such as touching private parts above or underneath clothing – is considered sexual misconduct.
There are three possible defenses available to a defendant in this situation.
The sexual conduct never happened
The first is that the conduct never happened, and that the victim fabricated evidence. In this situation, the arrest was part of an ongoing investigation by the sheriff’s office looking for corruption within the jail’s ranks. It is unknown if inmates were offered any special privileges or offered reduced jail time if they cooperated with the investigation and/or helped uncover corruption. Any transcripts, recordings or notes of conversations between the victim and other prison officials would need to be examined, and the victim and officials he had contact with interviewed, to determine if he was promised anything in exchange for informing on allegedly corrupt officials. If any such evidence came to light, it would show that the victim had motive to make up a sexual encounter for his own self gain.
The defendant was the victim
The second possible defense is that the defendant was the victim, rather than the one who initiated the sexual conduct that resulted in the charge. If there is any evidence that she was coerced or threatened to engage in sexual conduct with the victim, then the charges would have to be dropped or a verdict of not guilty handed down at trial.
The defendant did not know the victim was an inmate
The third possible defense is if the defendant had no knowledge, and no reason to believe, that the victim was in custody. Evidence that could tend to prove the defendant did not know the victim was an inmate include:
- Where the encounter took place (i.e., if he was granted privileges that allowed him to be out of the general population), or
- Whether he was wearing a prison-issue uniform during their encounter, or attire that could have made the defendant think he was either another guard or a civilian
If none of these defenses are feasible based on a review of all the evidence, then it may be in the defendant’s best interest to negotiate a plea for a lesser charge.
Chicago Sex Crimes Attorney
Conviction for custodial sexual misconduct, or any sex crime, is a serious charge that can result in prison time, registration as a sex offender and, in the case of custodial misconduct, the loss of employment upon conviction. If you have been charged with any sex crime, you need an experienced attorney who will build an aggressive defense against all charges. With close to 20 years’ experience handling all sex crimes, Chicago sex crimes attorney David L. Freidberg should be who you turn to first. Contact our Chicago, Skokie or DuPage County office 24/7 at 312-560-7100 to schedule your free initial consultation.