Sedgwick County detention deputy accused of fondling two male inmates

Two male inmates reported being fondled by a Sedgwick County detention deputy at the work-release center in early October, Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said Wednesday.

The “lewd fondling” was reported on Oct. 9 and allegedly occurred the night before, Easter said. James Harris Conklin, who has been a detention deputy for 19 years, made his first appearance in Sedgwick County District Court last week on two counts of unlawful sexual relations.

The case was presented to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office the week after the alleged offenses were reported, Easter said. Conklin was charged on Nov. 28, and he was placed on administrative leave with pay the next day.

He was suspended without pay on the same day he was arraigned last week, Easter said.

Conklin’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 10. His bond was set at $5,000. He was booked into jail and released after posting bond on the same day, said Georgia Cole, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.

He is the second detention deputy at the Sedgwick County Jail charged with sex crimes in the past year.

David Kendall faces 12 charges, 11 of them relating to alleged sex crimes between April and June. The charges against Kendall involve six alleged victims and incidents that span more than a two-month period, court records show.

“We are a very professional sheriff’s office, and we take all these allegations very seriously,” Easter said. “We take our relationship with the DA’s office very seriously, and we work with the DA’s office on each one of these allegations.

“Some are not true, but those are also presented to the DA’s office to ensure that we are looking at these as seriously as we can.”

The district attorney’s office makes the final decision on whether charges are warranted.

The work release center on McLean has four pods and holds 154 inmates, Sedgwick County Undersheriff Danny Bardezbain said. That number includes female inmates.

The inmates who reported the fondling were in the same pod, Easter said. The men, ages 33 and 21, have been released from detention after serving their time, he said.

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