The FBI on Wednesday began its own investigation of allegations of misconduct at the Sedgwick County Jail, an FBI spokeswoman said.
The development comes a day after the sheriff announced that jail deputy David Kendall, 21, had been arrested after being suspected of multiple sex crimes. Previously, attorneys have said that two inmates alleged that they had been raped by a jail deputy.
“We have opened our own federal civil rights investigation,” FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said.
Sheriff Robert Hinshaw said he welcomed the FBI investigation, adding that he has told the federal agency that if “their decision was to proceed with a separate investigation, we would give them 100 percent cooperation and provide them anything that they want.”
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The FBI investigation is one of four probes of the allegations involving the deputy. The Sheriff’s Office is conducting a criminal investigation to determine whether state law was broken, and it is doing an internal investigation into whether professional standards were violated. Attorneys representing the alleged victims have their own investigation.
Hinshaw held a news conference Tuesday to announce that sheriff’s detectives arrested Kendall as a result of an ongoing criminal investigation of alleged sexual misconduct in the jail. Hinshaw said that Kendall, who has been with the Sheriff’s Office since October 2008, was booked into jail on suspicion of two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy, two counts of unlawful sexual relations, two counts of mistreatment of a confined person and one count of sexual battery. Kendall is being held in a separate area of the jail on a $100,000 bond.
Kurt Kerns, one of the attorneys representing two inmates who say they were victims of the deputy, said of the FBI investigation: “We’re happy about the independent investigation. We think it can be a great asset in uncovering the whole truth.”
Last week, after the allegations arose, Kerns said he asked U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom to initiate an independent federal civil rights investigation. Jim Cross, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said Grissom referred the case to the civil rights division of the Department of Justice.
The decision to have a separate FBI investigation is based on a review of the case by the FBI and the Department of Justice, Patton said.
She said she couldn’t comment further because of the pending investigation.
Kerns said that he and fellow Wichita attorney Mark Schoenhofer have been doing their own investigation of the rape allegations. “At this point, we want to step back and let the prosecutors do their job,” Kerns said.
Hinshaw said Tuesday that the sheriff’s investigators are planning to present their investigation to prosecutors in the next couple of days so prosecutors can decide whether charges will be filed.