April 5, 1995 in Idaho

Jail Deputy Fired Over Incident Nurse’s Report Led To Sheriff’s Probe, Which Found Violations Of Policy

By The Spokesman-Review

An investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct ended Tuesday with the firing of a Kootenai County Jail deputy.

The deputy, whose name has not been released, was fired for “conduct unbecoming of an officer,” said Lt. Joe Eisenbrandt of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

In mid-March both the Sheriff’s Department and the Idaho Bureau of Investigations began investigations after a hospital employee reported what she believed was misconduct between the deputy and a female prisoner he was guarding at the hospital.

The Sheriff’s Department investigation found that the employee was in violation of department policy, Eisenbrandt said.

However, the IBI investigation, also completed this week, indicates that although the deputy may have violated policy, investigators cannot prove there was any sexual contact between the deputy and inmate.

Both the deputy and the inmate have denied there was any inappropriate contact between them.

In an interview last month, inmate Shelly Fagerlie said she was taken to Kootenai Medical Center after her finger became severely infected.

On March 19, after Fagerlie showered, the guard asked her to return the safety razor she had used, she said. While looking for the razor, both of them were in the bathroom at the same time.

A nurse knocked on the door asking where the deputy was and appeared to think some inappropriate sexual behavior had occurred, Fagerlie said.

“I feel really bad for him. He didn’t do anything,” Fagerlie said in a previous interview.

Fagerlie insisted she was dressed in a hospital gown and the deputy was fully clothed.

Neither the hospital nor sheriff’s officials would reveal the exact nature of the nurse’s allegations. But Fagerlie said the nurse told officials that she found the deputy and the inmate locked in the bathroom.

Fagerlie said the nurse felt the deputy tried to hide in the shower when she came looking for him.

Chief Deputy Gary Cuff said the Sheriff’s Department’s investigation determined the deputy’s actions had violated several sections of department policy.

Other than saying the deputy’s conduct was detrimental to the department and violated the integrity of the department, Cuff would not specify the nature of the inappropriate behavior.

Cuff said the IBI investigation was done to determine if the deputy had broken any laws, such as having sexual contact with an inmate.

The IBI investigation found that the accusations were “unsubstantiated,” which means there was not enough evidence to press criminal charges, Cuff said.

Jim Whitehead of the IBI said it is a felony punishable by up to life in prison for a jailer to have sexual contact with a prisoner.

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