SEDGWICK COUNTY, KANSAS – Sedgwick County sheriff’s detectives arrested a county jail deputy Tuesday as a result of an ongoing criminal investigation of alleged sexual misconduct in the jail.
At a news conference late Tuesday afternoon, Sheriff Robert Hinshaw announced that the deputy, David E. Kendall, 21, has been booked into jail on suspicion of two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy, two counts of unlawful sexual relations, two counts of mistreatment of a confined person and one count of sexual battery.
Previously, two attorneys representing inmates have said that they were investigating allegations that a deputy raped or sodomized two male inmates.
For now, Kendall is being held without bond in the jail medical clinic, to keep him away from the rest of the jail population. Kendall, who has been with the Sheriff’s Office since October 2008, will probably be moved out of the county partly because he is familiar with the jail’s security, Hinshaw said.
The allegations – against someone working for a law enforcement agency – “tarnish all of our badges” and are embarrassing, Hinshaw said.
Later in the news conference, he said he wants the public to have confidence in the Sheriff’s Office, which operates the jail.
“This whole issue is very important to the public,” he said.
Hinshaw, who is seeking re-election, acknowledged that he has heard some say that law enforcement tends to cover up for its own.
“I would respectfully disagree with that,” as far as the Sheriff’s Office is concerned, he said. In the last five years, he said, the office has fired 13 staff members accused of crimes, and that of the 13, nine were charged.
The sheriff said his view of the agency investigating one of its own is “if you’ve got a mess, you clean up your own mess.”
He noted that as part of a survey of sexual misconduct in prisons and jails, the Sheriff’s Office reported 51 incidents. Those involved staff-to-inmate or inmate-to-inmate contact for 2004 through 2011, with the exception of 2006.
Of the 51 incidents, 16 – or about one in three – involved sexual misconduct by staff. Four of the 16 incidents were found to be substantiated, four unsubstantiated and eight unfounded. Of the four substantiated cases involving staff, Hinshaw said, he knew of one in which charges were filed but wasn’t sure of the other cases.
“In a jail,” he said, “there is no such thing as consensual sex between an inmate and a staff member. It is a felony.”
Mark Schoenhofer, one of the attorneys representing the alleged victims, said after Hinshaw’s announcement of the arrest: “We’re happy that the Sheriff’s Office has taken steps on behalf of our clients to see that some justice was done. We’re happy that the arrest was made … and I’m hopeful that the DA’s (District Attorney’s) Office will follow up with charges.”
Schoenhofer said he and another attorney, Kurt Kerns, will be interested in what criminal investigators find and will continue their own investigation; Schoenhofer said they have yet to take any formal action toward possible litigation.
Hinshaw said he couldn’t discuss the evidence so far, but said his detectives are being assisted by the FBI and have conducted “a lot” of interviews of deputies, inmates and former inmates. He emphasized that the investigation is ongoing.
“We’re not anywhere close to being done,” Hinshaw said.
Sheriff’s detectives learned of an initial allegation on June 3 and of an additional allegation on Monday, Hinshaw said. One of the two inmates who is alleged to be a victim has been moved into U.S. marshal’s custody; the other remains at the jail.
Kendall remains on the payroll as the personnel process moves toward a possible firing, Hinshaw said. He said that Kendall’s rights as an employee and his rights as an accused must be upheld.
The criminal case will be presented, most likely in the next two to three days, to the District Attorney’s Office. It will decide what, if any, charges will be filed.
Speaking of the allegations, Hinshaw said, “Unfortunately, things like this do arise, not just here but in agencies across the United States.”
Asked by a reporter whether the Sheriff’s Office had made any changes in procedures as a result of the accusations against the deputy, Hinshaw said, “We already have very good procedures, protocols,” but that the office reviews practices as issues arise.
Asked how the suspected crimes could have occurred without someone knowing, Hinshaw said that although the jail has 200 cameras to monitor parts of the jail, staff members can’t see everything.
“This jail is virtually a small city,” he said. “Just like in any city … things can happen.”