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Former Mississippi Mayor Charged with Sexually Assaulting Prisoner

Federal prosecutors have charged the former mayor of Walnut Grove, Mississippi with sexually assaulting a prisoner while acting under color of law. He also was charged with telling the prisoner to lie during an investigation into the incident. [See: PLN, April 2012, p.1].

William Grady Sims, 61, was first elected mayor of Walnut Grove in 1981. He was accused of sexually assaulting a female prisoner held at the Walnut Grove Transition Center (WGTC) operated by GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest private prison company.

WGTC houses prisoners from the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Ironically, Sims was employed as WGTC’s warden in 2009 when he took the prisoner to a motel room and had sex with her.

Separately, state auditors found that Sims’ relationship with private prison firms was illegally costing local taxpayers. On October 25, 2011, State Auditor Stacey Pickering ordered Sims to repay $31,150 for ordering private prisons in the area to be serviced by city employees and equipment.

“The demand against Mayor Sims represents multiple instances where city employees were directed by the mayor to do work at a private prison facility in Walnut Grove,” Pickering said in a news release. “Taxpayers of Walnut Grove have been paying for equipment and labor to do work at these facilities that are for-profit, private prisons. In addition, town equipment and labor have been used on private property at taxpayer expense.”

Sims pleaded guilty to a federal witness tampering charge in February 2012, and was sentenced on April 24, 2012 to seven months in prison and six months of home confinement, plus two years on supervised release. He also agreed to resign as mayor and not to run for public office or seek government employment in the future. See: United States v. Sims, U.S.D.C. (S.D. Miss.), Case No. 3:11-cr-00090-DCB-LRA.

Sources: Associated Press,

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Related legal case

United States v. Sims