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Wisconsin Prisoners Sexually Assaulted by 20 Staff Members Over Five Years

Wisconsin Prisoners Sexually Assaulted by 20 Staff Members Over Five Years

by Gary Hunter

According to John Dipko, public information director for the Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections, twenty state prison employees have faced charges of rape or sexual assault involving prisoners since 2003. Several recent cases are detailed below.

Dwight Helsell, Edward H. Wood and Andrew Metzen all worked maintenance at the Taycheedah Correctional Institution (TCI) when they were charged with sexually assaulting two female prisoners. [See: PLN, Aug. 2006, p.1].

Helsell received two years probation and 45 days in jail for sexually inappropriate behavior with the two prisoners between February 1 and August 22, 2005.

Wood was a section plant operator at TCI for 13 years when he was charged with 4th degree sexual assault. He was accused of bringing beer into the prison, giving it to one of the prisoners and then touching her inappropriately on two occasions. Wood was ordered to pay $250 to a non-profit organization for sexual assault victims.

Metzen received a six-month jail sentence and two years probation for having sexual intercourse with one of the prisoners, who was also sexually involved with Helsell. The woman said the sex was consensual and admitted to being “romantically interested” in Metzen.

In October 2005, TCI employee John Patterson, 53, was charged with sexually assaulting two female prisoners. He was placed on three years probation.

Dustin M. Schultz also worked at TCI before he was arrested and sentenced to 60 days in jail and three years probation in January 2008. Schultz was a guard at the time a 26-year-old female prisoner claimed they engaged in sexual intercourse while another prisoner acted as a lookout. Schultz admitted to having sexual contact but denied engaging in intercourse.

TCI prison guard Jimmie Brown, 36, was charged in April 2008 with 13 counts of sexual assault for having sex with five women at TCI. Another four counts involving a sixth victim were added last July; he is accused of raping one prisoner and having consensual sex with the others. His prosecution is still pending.

Male prisoners aren’t safe from sexual abuse, either. In March 2008, Prairie du Chien prison guard James Trentin, 58, was arrested for sexual assault. He was accused of giving male prisoners candy, chewing tobacco, soap and other amenities; in exchange, he allegedly took them to a private telephone room where he performed oral sex. The sexual misconduct took place over an 18-month period, according to prosecutors.

The sexual assault charges were dropped after Trentin entered an Alford plea to three felony counts of delivering contraband to prisoners in October 2008; he was ordered to pay over $2,500 in fines and fees. However, Trentin was rearrested in November after sending a birthday card and money order to a prisoner despite a no-contact order; he was also charged with three counts of felony bail jumping.

In May 2008, two female guards at the Oakhill Correctional Institution, Christine Roberge and Heather Bartosch, were charged with second-degree sexual assault for having sex with a male prisoner. Both were married at the time, Bartosch to a police detective. The guards claimed they had been seduced, a defense that is unlikely to prevail in court.

Most recently, a female guard at the Columbia Correctional Institution was charged in June 2008 with second-degree sexual assault, delivering contraband and public misconduct. The 45-year-old prison employee, who was not identified, was placed on administrative leave; she is accused of having sex with a male prisoner and giving him snacks and magazines.

Although prison guards include sex offenders among their ranks, the punishment for such crimes – when they are investigated and prosecuted – is generally lax, and often results in fines or probation rather than substantial prison terms that would serve as deterrents for other guards who may be tempted to use prisoners for their sexual gratification.

Sources: Fond du Lac Reporter,

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