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California Jailer Accused of Raping Detainees to Stand Trial

by Ed Lyon 

On March 31, 2018, two female detainees at a jail in Contra Costa County, California decided to play a dangerous game and began a flirtation with male guard Patrick Morseman. Early that day, the women passed a note to Morseman, 26, that he understood to be an “invitation” to have sex with them. The two prisoners later had a lengthy conversation with Morseman during out-of-cell dayroom time in their jail module.

Morseman, like all guards, had been specifically trained and warned not to have sexual contact with prisoners. That day, his partner, who had witnessed his inappropriate interactions with the pair of prisoners, identified as Jane Does 1 and 2, spoke with him about it and reminded him about the security cameras at the facility.

Morseman continued flirting with the prisoners, heedless of his partner’s warnings, his job training and a document he had signed which explicitly signified his understanding that he was not to have sexual contact with detainees. 

Setting the stage for what was to come later, Morseman violated jail rules by allowing the female prisoners to “hang out” together in a cell after dayroom time was over. Around 2:00 a.m., Morseman entered the cell, turned off the lights and spent around six minutes having oral sex and intercourse with them, finally ejaculating on the floor.

Afterward, the prisoners presented him with blackmail demands in exchange for keeping quiet, including $500 on their commissary accounts, a lighter and cigarettes, and a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine. Between the sexual encounter and their demands, the prisoners recovered Morseman’s semen from the floor with a sanitary napkin, which they wrapped in plastic to give to their attorney. Morseman put $300 on one of the prisoner’s account. A plastic lighter and cigarettes were later found in his locker by investigators, but no methamphetamine. 

Morseman was originally going to be charged with the most serious offense possible: rape under color of authority. He had saved the prisoners’ invitational sex note, however, which worked in his favor. Morseman was ultimately charged with four felony counts of “sexual activity with a confined consenting adult.” Prosecutor Phyllis Redmond maintained that the jailer’s sexual encounter with the prisoners was “very serious [mis]conduct,” but stressed the lesser charges were “filed based on what we can prove to a judge or a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.” Morseman was freed on $100,000 bond. 

Meanwhile, the two prisoners hired attorneys to sue on their behalf, claiming they had not consented to the sexual activity. “We were just toying with him, we weren’t really serious,” one of them stated. With respect to the blackmail note requesting money, contraband and drugs, the prisoners pleaded the Fifth Amendment and were then granted immunity. 

The county settled the civil suits, with each prisoner receiving a $75,000 payout. One of the prisoners, Jane Doe 1, flaunted a subpoena to testify against Morseman and a bench warrant was issued for her arrest. A trial in the criminal prosecution remains pending. 



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