Abuse by Pearl River County deputies alleged

Published 7:16 pm Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department employee was asked to resign after allegedly abusing a Hancock County inmate held in the county jail.

The employee’s resignation was linked to one of two separate recent complaints concerning allegations of abuse against the department. The second incident involved allegations of sexual assault on a citizen by a deputy, which is still under investigation.

Recently, a Hancock County Sheriff’s Department deputy reportedly witnessed an incident where one of their inmates allegedly was physically abused by a Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department employee, said Hancock County Investigator Kenny Hurt. He said the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident so he did not want to comment further.

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Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Julie Flowers said the FBI came to look into the matter after the Pearl River County Sheriff’s department asked the federal law enforcement agency to investigate the incident. Deborah Madden, of the FBI Media Relations division for the Jackson office, said the agency was made aware of the incident by the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department, which wanted the FBI to look at all the evidence in the matter.

Allegedly during the initial pat down of the Hancock County inmate in question a deputy found a sensitive area on the inmate. After the inmate complained about the sensitive area, a sergeant conducted another pat down, but apparently hit the inmate in the same sensitive area intentionally, Flowers said. That sergeant was asked to resign over his alleged misconduct in the incident.

“We thought that was an inappropriate action,” Flowers said. “He shouldn’t have done what he did, that’s the bottom line.”

Madden said the Gulfport FBI office will examine the evidence to determine if any further action is necessary.

A separate complaint involving alleged abuse by a deputy of a county resident involved alleged sexual molestation.

Statements provided by a female county resident allege that an off duty deputy sexually assaulted her in her home after she had him take her home from a friend’s house in early March 2007. Flowers said she talked to the woman about the incident and has referred her to the FBI. The woman said she has contacted the FBI office in Gulfport and they are looking into the matter.

Flowers said anytime there is a complaint about an employee in the sheriff’s department, the FBI is called in.

“It’s best just to get someone else in to investigate instead of investigating on your own,” Flowers said.