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L.A. County inmate says she had sexual contact with deputy

October 17, 2011 |  3:02 pm

Two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies were reassigned over the weekend after an inmate alleged she had sexual contact with one of them, department officials said Monday.

The deputies are with the department’s transportation detail, which takes inmates by bus between jail and court. 

The inmate said she had sexual contact with one of the deputies while the other deputy was nearby.

Full coverage: Jails under scrutiny

Commander James Hellmold said the probe was being handled by internal sheriff’s criminal investigators. He said any suspicion of sexual contact between the deputy and the inmate is currently based solely on the inmate’s account. Investigators are seeking potential witnesses and other evidence that could flesh out the veracity of the woman’s claims.

"There’s zero tolerance for inappropriate activity," Hellmold said. "Obviously that would be inappropriate for that to occur."

He would not say what type of sexual contact was alleged or whether the inmate had characterized it as consensual.

The accused deputies will remain reassigned until the investigation is complete, Hellmold said.

The allegations come as the Sheriff’s Department faces intensifying scrutiny of alleged inmate abuse and other deputy misconduct inside the largest jail system in the country.  Federal authorities are investigating a number of cases of alleged abuse, and have subpoenaed the Sheriff’s Department for a wide range of custody data, including contact information for all jail employees. The FBI went so far recently as to sneak a cellphone to an inmate informant inside of Men’s Central Jail.

The Board of Supervisors is considering commissioning an independent panel to review jail abuse allegations and suggest reforms.


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