On September 25, 2012, a former Oregon jail guard was sentenced to just two years of probation for sexually abusing a female prisoner. Prosecutors defend the light sentence by blaming the victim.
As we've previously reported, guard Eddie James Miller's 21-year career at Inverness Jail, in Portland, Oregon, came to a premature climax when he walked in on a 34-year old female prisoner as she used the bathroom in the jail's medical unit and forced her to perform fellatio on January 9, 2012.
The distraught prisoner immediately reported the incident to detectives, according to Mike Schults, a Chief Deputy with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.
The woman's DNA was found on Miller and she testified before a Grand Jury, according to authorities. On February 29, 2012, Miller was indicted on charges of official misconduct in the first degree and custodial sexual misconduct in the first degree, according to court records.
Custodial sexual misconduct in the first degree makes it a felony for an Oregon corrections employee or contractor to engage in sexual intercourse with a prisoner. All other sexual contact constitutes the misdemeanor offense of custodial sexual misconduct in the second degree. Prisoners are not subject to prosecution and consent is not a defense, because of the extreme power-imbalance between guards and prisoners.
Following the indictment, Miller surrendered to his former colleagues. One deputy shook his hand and another patted him on the shoulder as he waited to be arraigned.
Miller entered a not guilty plea, through his attorney Lisa Ludwig. He was fingerprinted, photographed and booked into the jail, but released on pretrial supervision, pending trial.
"We take these things very seriously," said Schults. During the investigation, Miller was initially placed on paid leave, but moved to unpaid leave after the indictment. He resigned in April, 2012.
"Our members are held to the highest standards," declared a prepared Sheriff's Office statement. "Our agency investigates allegations of misconduct diligently and with the highest priority."
The victim was transferred to nearby Washington County Jail (WCJ) for her safety, according to Schults.
Miller was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct and sentenced to a much lighter sentence than other Oregon guards have recently faced for similar misconduct.
Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Don Rees defends the plea agreement and light sentence by blaming the victim. He claims, in fact, that Miller may have actually been the victim, of a scheme to win a cash settlement from the County.
Of course, impugning the victim's character and credibility in the criminal proceeding may be the County's convenient defense strategy to insulate itself from the civil liability that is sure to follow.
Noting that the woman has a 15-year criminal history, including fraud and forgery convictions, investigators claim that they became suspicious of her intentions when her boyfriend and another prisoner supposedly reported that she told them that she was using Miller to get rich off the county.
Several WCJ prisoners supposedly told jail officials that she also told them of her plan to trap a well-liked WCJ guard in a similar scheme.
At Miller's September 25, 2012 sentencing, Ludwig called the victim a "con artist," but conceded that Miller is guilty of official misconduct. The woman then wiped away tears as she spoke of needing medication for nightmares and panic attacks.
"When you, Mr. Miller, decided to use me for your own sexual benefit, you took a part of me away," she said. "There was a time when all I did was cry whenever I thought of the assault."
Pursuant to his plea agreement, Miller, 59, was sentenced to probation for two years. He was also ordered to pay the victim a $2,500 compensatory fine and to forfeit his law enforcement certification.
Portland attorney Jennifer Palmquist has notified the County of the victim's intent to sue. She says calling her client a con artist is nothing more than "blaming the victim." She notes, to the contrary, that once Miller was placed on leave, co-workers came forward to report that he had kissed and touched them in a sexually aggressive, inappropriate and non-consensual manner.
Palmquist says her client wants to fix a broken system, noting that jail officials did not offer her medical treatment or counseling after she reported the abuse. "No one has promised her any money, including me," said Palmquist. "But we have said maybe we can change something."
Source: The Oregonian
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