by Kevin W. Bliss
New York’s Erie County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) fired a county jail guard on May 19, 2022, after several detainees came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct. The move came a month after a grand jury indicted Robert M. Dee, 41, in April 2022 for forcible touching and touching the intimate parts of a detainee. He was also indicted on three unrelated charges of official misconduct for utilizing government property for personal gain.
Dee was previously suspended without pay in December 2021, when he was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence for choking an unnamed woman at his home. The next month, the charge was upgraded to criminal contempt and tampering with a witness, after the woman was again found in his home despite a “no contact” order issued after the first incident. He posted $25,000 bond to get out of jail on those charges.
The grand jury then returned its indictment, charging Dee with sexually touching a detainee in 2019. Allegedly, he kept up with her after release and even used his government vehicle for a romantic tryst with the woman, who was not named.
Dee was part of a wrongful death suit filed on behalf of detainee Richard Metcalf, who asphyxiated in 2012 from a spit bag tied too tightly around the neck. That suit’s last claim – against the county for failure to train and supervise Dee and fellow deputies – was dismissed, a decision the state Supreme Court affirmed. See: Metcalf v. Cty. of Erie, 173 A.D.3d 1799 (2019).
Two other cases of alleged sexual misconduct at the jail were investigated in 2020. But Dee avoided reprimand or punishment in both. However, the incidents sparked a separate investigation by the state Attorney General and the Commission of Correction. To resolve that, then-Sheriff Timothy B. Howard signed an agreement to improve investigations into sexual misconduct allegations in ESCO.
More charges may follow, after a recent investigation uncovered at least eight ESCO policy and procedure violations, including inmate fraternization, unbecoming and immoral conduct, and official misconduct, according to current Sheriff John Garcia.
Source: Buffalo News
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Related legal case
Metcalf v. Cty. of Erie
|173 A.D.3d 1799 (2019)