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Kentucky Judge Gives Ex-Jail Guard Convicted of Sexually Assaulting Prisoner Chance to Re-Enlist in Army to Avoid Jail Time

by Keith Sanders

As a federal lawsuit proceeds against Kentucky’s Franklin County filed by a former jail detainee forced into sex by a former guard, a state court judge who found the man criminally liable for the detainee’s sexual assault gave him an unusual choice at his sentencing on January 7, 2022:

Enlist in the military or go to jail.

“You’re getting a huge break,” Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate promised Brandon Scott Price, addressing the disgraced 28-year-old former guard as “young man.”

Those boys-club winks might not sit well with Ashley Franklin, 33, who was a prisoner at Franklin County Regional Jail (FCRJ) in 2019 when Price ordered her to perform oral sex on him, promising in exchange to pull some strings at the state Department of Corrections (DOC) to secure her early release.

According to the lawsuit Franklin filed in federal court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Price violated jail policy by transporting her by himself to a local hospital for high blood pressure treatment. Then on the return trip, he pulled off the road, climbed into the back of the van, and sexually assaulted her while she was still shackled.

Unsurprisingly, despite Price’s pre-coital promises, Franklin remains incarcerated by DOC in Shelby County Detention Center, serving a 13-year sentence for a 2018 guilty plea to drug charges, including methamphetamine trafficking.

Meanwhile, the former guard who vowed to free her—before he forced himself on her—received a 12-month sentence, probated for two years on condition he re-enlist in the military within 30 days. Otherwise, he can report to FCRJ to be incarcerated, Judge Wingate ordered.

Price’s previous military service appeared to influence the judge’s unusual sentencing. However, with the scrutiny in the U.S. military over sexual assault cases within its ranks, new Department of Defense regulations would require Price to obtain a waiver for his conviction before he could enlist.

In addition to Price, Franklin named the county as a defendant, along with two other jailers, Rick Rogers and Wes Culbertson. She is represented in her suit by attorneys Aaron J. Bentley, Gregory A. Belzley and Camille Bathurst of Belzley, Bathurst & Bentley in Prospect, as well as Michael L. Hawkins of Michael L. Hawkins & Associates PLLC in Frankfort.

A jury trial in the case is currently set for January 2023, and PLN will report developments as they become available. See: Franklin v. Franklin Cty., USDC (E.D. Ky.), Case No. 3:19-cv-00050.  

Additional sources: Franklin State-Journal, New York Post, Washington Examiner

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Related legal case

Franklin v. Franklin Cty.