Sedgwick County sheriff: Jail has increased efforts against sex attacks

Sedgwick County Jail (Oct. 16, 2013)
Sedgwick County Jail (Oct. 16, 2013) File photo

Sedgwick County sheriff’s officials on Wednesday said there have been increased efforts to combat sexual assault or harassment in the county jail.

The comments came during the weekly sheriff’s briefing for media and less than a week after Sheriff Jeff Easter announced that a former sheriff’s deputy has been charged with multiple counts of unlawful sexual relations involving two inmates while he worked in the jail.

Later Wednesday, the Sheriff’s Office provided The Eagle this breakdown on reported incidents:

For 2013: Inmate on inmate sexual assault, 1; inmate on inmate sexual harassment, 8; staff on inmate sexual misconduct, 9; staff on inmate sexual harassment, 1.

For 2014: Inmate on inmate sexual assault, 2; inmate on inmate sexual harassment, 1; staff on inmate sexual misconduct, 3; staff on inmate sexual harassment, 1.

Information wasn’t available Wednesday on the outcomes of those reports.

The office on Wednesday gave this written statement: “The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office has a Zero Tolerance Policy against sexual assault and harassment of inmates. As a community steward, the Sheriff’s Office has a dedication to run a safe and secure Detention Facility.”

Easter said the efforts, since he became sheriff in December 2012, include enhanced training for staff and more ways for inmates to report incidents, including anonymously through Crime Stoppers.

The office also is in the process of adding about 250 video cameras to the jail, which will help prevent attacks, Easter said. The cameras are part of security system improvements costing $4.5 million.

In the past, the jail had 200 cameras, but footage wasn’t recorded, he said. Those 200 cameras will be replaced with upgraded cameras.

The additional cameras won’t capture everything but will help, he said.

Where in past years some complaints might have “fallen on deaf ears” depending on the severity, now all complaints are addressed, said sheriff’s Lt. Maurice Evans.

Recently, prosecutors charged a former jail deputy, Kenneth M. Reese, with eight felony charges: two counts of unlawful sexual relations, four counts of attempted unlawful sexual relations, one count of trafficking in contraband in a correctional institution and one count of making false information.

“Any time you have an incident like this, it’s a problem,” Easter said Friday. “Do I think it’s systemic throughout the organization? Absolutely not.”

Another former jail deputy, David Kendall, is facing a May 12 trial over charges that he raped two inmates in 2012 and sexually propositioned four others.

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