For­mer county cor­rec­tional of­fi­cer sen­tenced to jail

Maryland Independent - - News - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­ Twit­ter: @An­drew_IndyNews

A for­mer cor­rec­tional of­fi­cer at the Charles County De­ten­tion Cen­ter pled guilty on Wed­nes­day for hav­ing sex­ual re­la­tions with an in­mate while on duty, the Charles County State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice an­nounced.

Jason Paul Arnold, 27, of La Plata was sen­tenced to serve 90 days in jail, about 10 months af­ter the in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan.

Al­le­ga­tions against Arnold sur­faced in July 2015, and the Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice says it took quick ac­tion once no­ti­fied.

“Once we were made aware of the al­le­ga­tions, the cor­rec­tional of­fi­cer in this case was im­me­di­ately re­moved from the work­place,” said CCSO spokes­woman Janelle Love af­ter charges were filed.

Po­lice also re­vealed that “the re­la­tion­ship briefly con­tin­ued af­ter she was re­leased from the de­ten­tion cen­ter,” ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease.

With Cir­cuit Court Judge James West pre­sid­ing at the plea hear­ing Wed­nes­day, pros­e­cu­tors told the court of the ev­i­dence brought against Arnold.

“In March of 2015, Arnold was es­cort­ing a fe­male in­mate to the vend­ing area at the CCDC. He took the woman into a closet and the two en­gaged in sex­ual con­duct, which in­cluded the woman per­form­ing [a sex­ual act] on Arnold,” states a press re­lease. “Prior to this sex­ual en­counter, Arnold had been ex­chang­ing notes of a sex­ual na­ture with the fe­male in­mate. Ac­cord­ing to the ev­i­dence de­scribed by the state, Arnold had at least one other sex­ual en­counter with this same fe­male in­mate and also ex­changed notes with other fe­male in­mates.”

The fe­male in­mate had been serv­ing an 18-month jail term for theft un­der $1,000, po­lice said.

In court, As­sis­tant State’s At­tor­ney Fran­cis J. Grana­dos asked West to go above sen­tenc­ing guide­lines given Arnold’s abuse of power.

“The sen­tenc­ing guide­lines are pro­ba­tion to pro­ba­tion, but this is not a guide­lines case,” Grana­dos said. “What type of mes­sage would it send to the com­mu­nity if an of­fi­cer who abuses his power in this way is sim­ply given pro­ba­tion, a slap on the wrist, and sent on his way? The State re­quests that the de­fen­dant have his rights and his lib­er­ties stripped away in the same way as the in­mate’s whom he was en­trusted to over­see. The de­fen­dant will be en­trusted to a fa­cil­ity that will re­spect his rights and his dig­nity: some­thing that he did not do for the vic­tim in this case.”

West agreed, and handed down a 90 day jail sen­tence.

“I un­der­stand the guide­lines are pro­ba­tion to pro­ba­tion, but that sen­tence doesn’t seem ap­pro­pri­ate for the crime,” he told Arnold. “It is the ex­pec­ta­tion that peo­ple in a po­si­tion of power are go­ing to do the right thing and not prey on the vul­ner­a­ble.”

“My thoughts are right in line with Judge West’s,” said State’s At­tor­ney Tony Cov­ing­ton (D). “This in­di­vid­ual was placed in a po­si­tion of trust. He, like all guards, had enor­mous con­trol and power over all the in­mates he over­saw. To take ad­van­tage of some­one like that is flat out wrong, can’t be tol­er­ated and should be pun­ished. Judge West ap­pro­pri­ately did so.”

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