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Clay detention deputies accused of rewarding female inmates who exposed themselves
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Clay detention deputies accused of rewarding female inmates who exposed themselves

Clay detention deputies accused of rewarding female inmates who exposed themselves
Photo Credit: Action News Jax
Clay County Jail

Clay detention deputies accused of rewarding female inmates who exposed themselves

Instructing and encouraging female inmates to expose themselves, engaging in sexually explicit conversations with female inmates, and failing to write up poor inmate behavior- they’re just some of the allegations which have led to the firing of three Clay County detention deputies.

WOKV reported a year ago about allegations of sexual misconduct between inmates and deputies, which sparked an investigation. A little over a week ago, we confirmed three deputies had been fired as a result of the administrative investigation that took place, although no criminal charges are being filed.

Now, we’ve obtained that full Internal Affairs report which, for the first time, details the nature of the allegations involved.

The three deputies who were fired as as result of this investigation are Marcus Beard, Kory Clarida, and Austin Hatcher. The report sustained five allegations for all of them: instructing or encouraging female inmates to display their breasts and genitalia, engaging in sexually explicit conversation with female inmates, bringing a personal cellphone in to the detention facility, using a personal cellphone to play music and games while on duty, and failing to log and/or report adverse inmate behavior. Each deputy faced additional sustained complaints as well.

The report sustained ten of the 13 allegations against Clarida. Beyond the five charges shared with the other deputies, he was also found to have displayed genitalia to a female inmate, instructed or encouraged female inmates to masturbate, instructing or encouraging female inmates to write sexually explicit notes, provide miscellaneous items to a female inmate assigned to confinement and suicide watch, and sleeping while on duty. Against Beard, six of ten complaints were sustained, which included observing female inmates while they showered, in addition to the above listed charges. Hatcher had six of eight complaints sustained, including the five shared allegations, as well as instructing or encouraging female inmates to masturbate.

According to the Internal Affairs report, all three deny any wrongdoing on the charges that relate to sexual conduct. They admit to bringing their phones in, playing music and games, and not properly writing up some inmate conduct, although the report notes that many deputies described similar conduct across other personnel. In fact, multiple interviews with deputies showed that they described it as common for inmates to be partially clothed or nude, or to masturbate in their cells. The report says the deputies would correct the inmates in the moment and the inmates would comply, so there was generally no further action taken, including logging that behavior.

The report shows several inmates gave investigators similar stories in regard to the more serious alleged misconduct, which happened between January and August 2018. One example is the use of a “pipe alley”, or maintenance corridor, for deputies to speak to inmates through the air vents and grates. Several inmates also said that if they engaged in the sexual behavior that the deputies instructed, they would be rewarded by extra food, coffee, or similar things. That allegedly came both at the direct request of the deputies, as well as if they danced and exposed themselves when the deputies played music over the intercom. Several inmates said the deputies would also use a flashlight or laser pointer to highlight parts of their body while they undressed, or indicate where the inmate should strip.

At least one inmate told the investigator that she initially declined the advances of the deputies, but ultimately “felt forced” to comply because they wouldn’t leave her alone, according to the report.

Some of the witness statements came from other detention deputies and Clay County Jail employees as well, including one deputy who told the IA investigator that she saw Clarida, Hatcher, and Beard playing games on their phones while on duty, but when she confronted them, an unnamed supervisor allegedly told her it wasn’t her place to tell them what to do. Another deputy witness statement claims the overall way rules are enforced with bad behavior by inmates has become “lackadaisical”. Another deputy testified admitting that she questioned a couple of inmates about the ongoing investigation and told them something to the effect of they shouldn’t involve “her boys” in this.

Multiple points in this report reference apparent policy changes that have taken place at the Clay County Jail, and WOKV has asked the Clay County Sheriff’s Office if those changes are at all a result of the investigation. At the time of these alleged incidents, two male deputies were allowed to escort a female inmate to the shower, if a female deputy was not available. The report says current policy prohibits that. It is also currently prohibited to have male, female, and juvenile inmates housed in the same area- like in confinement- although that was not the case at the time of these allegations, according to the report.

In all, seven detention deputies, one detention sergeant, and one then-maintenance technician were investigated as part of this probe. CCSO terminated Beard, Clarida, and Hatcher as a result of the administrative investigation. Two other deputies has sustained complaints dealing with their personal cell phones, with one of them also found to have failed to report or log adverse inmate behavior. WOKV is working to confirm what disciplinary action CCSO took in regard to these findings. The other people involved in the investigation had the allegations conclude as unfounded or not sustained.

We have also asked the Sheriff’s Office what other changes have been made at the Jail to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. We are waiting for a response.

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