New York Jail Guard Sentenced for Sexually Abusing Seven Prisoners
A former guard at the Monroe County Correctional Facility in Rochester, New York received six months in jail plus 10 years’ probation and was required to register as a sex offender after he pleaded guilty in April 2013 to sexually abusing seven female prisoners.
Former Sgt. Robert Wilson, 41, was sentenced after entering the plea to a 21-count indictment that accused him of engaging in criminal sexual contact with the prisoners for two years, from 2010 to July 2012. The charges included rape, sexual abuse and official misconduct. [See: PLN, Nov. 2013, p.56].
Four of the seven victims filed suit in federal court in October 2013 against Wilson and Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, joining a previous lawsuit that was filed in July. The five suits, which also name Monroe County as a defendant, contend that O’Flynn and the county knew as early as 2010 that Wilson had an “inappropriate relationship” with a female prisoner but did nothing to stop his misconduct.
“These are five women that are at the lowest point in their life,” said attorney Robert King, who is representing the victims. “What we know is that this happened time after time after time, woman after woman after woman, inside the jail and in some instances outside the jail after they were released.”
Each of the lawsuits claims that “other members of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office allowed Sergeant Wilson to be alone” with the women, and one victim alleged the Sheriff’s Office was “alerted to the inappropriate relationship” but “did not investigate.... If they did investigate, the investigation was not sufficient,” and officials “did not take action to remedy the situation and prevent future harm.”
At the time of his indictment, Wilson was a 17-year veteran and supervisor at the jail; investigators said that for more than two years he used his position to sexually abuse female prisoners. He resigned after being charged.
“I find that Wilson’s actions were obviously reprehensible and disturbing, and they are an embarrassment to our organization and to the community we serve,” said Sheriff O’Flynn. “He was a supervisor in charge so he had access to the entire facility, and he had very calculated actions to be able to manipulate the system to accommodate his actions.”
Investigators said they believe Wilson had relationships with many of the women before they entered the jail; he apparently did not take any of the prisoners off jail property, but did take them out of secure areas at times.
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley stated the victims deserve justice. “Regardless of what they’ve done in the past and where they are and what their situation in life is, if they are victims and a law is violated, we will represent their interest in court,” she said.
The prisoners’ lawsuits allege numerous sexual encounters involving Wilson. One of the victims said Wilson encouraged her “to strip tease in her cell while he watched,” then later directed her to perform oral sex. In another case, the victim claimed Wilson called her away from her cell for “unscheduled medical appointments” and led her into an office where he engaged “in personal, flirtatious and sexually explicit conversation.”
The same victim’s lawsuit also alleges that Wilson told her to “write sexually explicit letters to him, which she did,” and “Wilson wrote a sexually explicit letter” back. She also claims that after she was released from jail, Wilson took her to his apartment and “tried to force” her to have sex “but allowed her to give him oral sex instead.”
Another of the prisoners said Wilson came to her cell, sat on her bunk and “directed her to show him her breasts.” The lawsuit filed by a fourth victim alleges that Wilson took her to a private room for sex after calling her into a hallway with the excuse that he had cleaning chores for her to do.
Authorities said Wilson was not reported by any of the prisoners he victimized; rather, an investigation was initiated after another staff member at the jail reported Wilson for improper use of computers, which led to the discovery of his sexual misconduct. The five lawsuits filed by Wilson’s victims all remain pending. See: Goodison, Jansen, Andrews, DiStefano and Knapp v. Monroe County, U.S.D.C. (W.D. NY), Case Nos. 6:13-cv-06342, 6:13-cv-06566, 6:13-cv-06567, 6:13-cv-06568 and 6:13-cv-06569.
Sources: www.corspecops.com, www.whec.com, Associated Press, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, www.13wham.com
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Related legal case
Goodison, Jansen, Andrews, DiStefano and Knapp v. Monroe County
|Cite||U.S.D.C. (W.D. NY), Case Nos. 6:13-cv-06342, 6:13-cv-06566, 6:13-cv-06567, 6:13-cv-06568 and 6:13-cv-06569|