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Oregon Jail Guard Quits, Divorces Wife for Former Prisoner

"I crushed a dude’s eye socket from repeatedly punching him in it, then I charged him with menacing and harassment,” bragged Multnomah County, Oregon jail guard David B. Thompson in one of more than 1,700 messages he posted on an Internet gaming site over an eight-month period while at work in 2007.

“Seeing someone get Tasered is second only to pulling the trigger,” Thompson wrote in another post. “That is money – puts a smile on your face.”

As previously reported in PLN, Thompson, who had been employed as a veteran guard at the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC), was merely suspended without pay for 11 days rather than terminated or prosecuted for misuse of jail computers or using excessive force against prisoners. [See: PLN, March 2009, p.25].

The suspension did little to get Thompson’s attention, apparently. He faced complaints for injuring a male prisoner in March 2009, for an undocumented use of force on a female prisoner in September 2010 and for an inappropriate conversation with another female prisoner in November 2011.

While assaulting prisoners is seemingly okay, falling in love with them evidently crosses the line in the eyes of Thompson’s MCDC co-workers. When he confided in two other guards that he intended to divorce his wife to pursue a relationship with an exotic dancer shortly after her release from jail, they ratted him out.

Thompson also sent an email to a captain, confirming that he was in a relationship with a former prisoner but claiming he did not know if she was still on parole – a fact that his wife’s divorce attorney later exposed. A formal investigation began in February 2012, according to Chief Deputy Mike Shults.

The former prisoner at the center of the scandal, Melissa M. Crawn, 31, was in custody at the Inverness Jail from August to December 2011 for violating her parole on a 2008 identity theft conviction. It was her fifth jail stay that year for parole violations and an intoxicated driving conviction.

On March 20, 2012, investigators confirmed that Crawn and Thompson were living together. The following day, Thompson was placed on administrative leave when investigators pulled him over and found Crawn in his vehicle.

In separate interviews, Thompson and Crawn both admitted that they began a personal relationship while she was incarcerated. Crawn told investigators that she thought Thompson was attractive, a good listener and treated her better than other jailers. He even helped her file a harassment complaint against another male guard.

Just a week after her December 2011 release from jail, Crawn called Thompson at work. They continued their relationship by phone until Thompson visited her in January 2012. Thompson later left his wife and child for Crawn, who was still legally married but separated from the father of her children.

“I wonder if it’s because he was in this relationship with her for so long and it was boring and I’m a little bit crazier,” Crawn surmised in response to investigators’ questions about why Thompson had left his wife and child for her. After all, she is “that foul-mouthed, tatted up country girl your momma warned you about,” according to her Facebook page.

Crawn told investigators that her mother was a prison guard at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution when she met and eventually married Crawn’s father, who was a prisoner at the facility.

The MCDC internal investigation found no evidence that Thompson and Crawn were intimate while she was in custody, said Multnomah County Sheriff’s Lt. Mark Matsushima. Their relationship did, however, violate agency policy because it became physical after her release, according to Chief Deputy Shults.

Thompson finally resigned. “We had to make sure we had all the facts before we took any definitive action,” said Shults. “But there’s no mistaking it, this is a case of extremely bad judgment that happened here.”

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office was investigating possible computer crimes related to Thompson’s use of the state’s Law Enforcement Data System to access information about Crawn for personal reasons after her release from jail.

Meanwhile, Crawn was sentenced to serve 15 days in the Clackamas County Jail for driving while intoxicated and with a suspended license, after she plowed into a fire hydrant in July 2011, just days after a stint in jail on a DUI conviction.

Thompson attended Crawn’s sentencing hearing and the two held hands and kissed in court. Apparently the now-former guard and former prisoner were meant for each other.

Sources: The Oregonian,, Portland Tribune

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