ST GABRIEL, La. — A former prison guard who says she was raped by an inmate at a Louisiana prison now faces a malfeasance charge arising from an alleged relationship with another inmate.
The same Iberville Parish grand jury that declined to indict the inmate on the rape accusation has indicted the guard on a charge of malfeasance in office, according to a report in The Advocate in Baton Rouge. The newspaper reviewed police reports and other documents in the case and interviewed police, prosecutors and the guard's attorney.
The grand jury's failure to indict the man accused of rape confounded the police chief in St. Gabriel, where the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center is located. He told the newspaper there was ample evidence to back the rape accusation, including surveillance video.
But Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton told The Associated Press on Thursday that the guard's refusal to testify before the grand jury "dealt a devastating blow to her rape charge.” And, without providing details of the grand jury probe, he said evidence supported the malfeasance charge against the guard.
“All I can tell you is that I am thoroughly convinced that the evidence will pan out that she committed malfeasance in office with this other inmate,” Clayton said. “And I stand by the grand jury's decision in not indicting this guy at this point in time.”
Clayton said the man accused of rape testified, but the prosecutor declined to discuss what he said, citing grand jury secrecy law. Details on the case will eventually emerge in court, Clayton said, adding that nothing prevents him from bringing the case back to a grand jury in the future should the evidence support a rape charge.
The guard said she was raped at Elayne Hunt on July 17.
Police reports reviewed by The Advocate state that video shows that the accused inmate had somehow left his cell. He appeared to remove something from his jumpsuit, approaching the guard from behind and placing something to her throat before they disappear into a bathroom, according to the newspaper's account of the police report.
“Nobody could look at that tape and say she wasn’t raped,” St. Gabriel Police Chief Kevin Ambeau told the newspaper.
But, the story grew more complicated because, not long after St. Gabriel police arrested the inmate accused of rape, the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office received a tip that the guard had a relationship with another inmate, according to Maj. Ronnie Hebert with the sheriff’s office. He told The Advocate an investigation involving telephone records led to the guard's arrest.
Clayton told the newspaper that facts that came out during the investigation caused prosecutors to “totally reevaluate the case.”
The guard's attorney, Travis Turner, said she is not guilty. He said he believes the malfeasance investigation was an attempt to discredit her. She chose not to testify before the grand jury because she would have faced questions about the case against herself in addition to the one against the inmate she accused of rape — and she didn’t want to relive the traumatic experience of the assault, Turner told the newspaper.
“If he were concerned about her being raped, he would have had her testify before the grand jury,” Clayton said in the AP interview.
Ambeau said St. Gabriel officers were told not to testify at the grand jury proceedings, even though they’re the ones who arrested the rape suspect in the first place. Prosecutors told The Advocate they couldn’t comment because the proceedings are secret.
The guard, who was indicted earlier this month, was fired after having been on the job eight months, the newspaper reported.