March 5, 1998 in City

County Targets Guard In Sex Scandal Seeks Resignation After Inmate’s Testimony That They Had Sex At Prison

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tags:ethics

Spokane County is demanding that an officer from Geiger Corrections Center resign, now that a former inmate has testified that the pair repeatedly had sex in 1992.

A Feb. 24 letter from county attorneys also demands that Sunny Pilkington drop a lawsuit or face the prospect of civil penalties.

The letter provides “an opportunity to resolve this matter promptly, without further expense,” said county attorney Tim Durkin.

Pilkington could not be reached for comment. Her attorney, Bill Maxey, did not return a telephone message.

Durkin said he and Maxey have had “preliminary discussions about possible solutions,” all of which include dropping the lawsuit. He would not elaborate.

Durkin said nothing will prevent the county from investigating “a wide array of possible criminal charges.”

He would not specify what charges are possible. Sex between inmates and prison guards is not illegal in Washington.

Pilkington was fired in 1992 when county officials accused her of having “inappropriate contact” with inmate Walter Zachman. A county investigation that led to the firing relied heavily on statements from one of Pilkington’s co-workers who reported seeing Pilkington hugging Zachman in a darkroom.

She won back her job during a 1994 arbitration hearing at which county attorneys acknowledged that a videotape of the room where the hug allegedly occurred probably was doctored by Pilkington’s accuser and another co-worker.

The tape showed that Pilkington didn’t need to search the opposite end of the room for a light switch, as she contended. But Geiger’s electrician told the arbitrator that a convenient switch used in the tape to light the room never was connected to the light.

Pilkington later filed a lawsuit claiming she was the victim of a conspiracy covered up by top county officials. A Seattle attorney hired by the county last year to investigate the case agreed.

Zachman, who has corroborated Pilkington’s story on several occasions, would not speak to that investigator.

Zachman is jailed at a federal detention center in SeaTac, Wash. He is serving a four-year sentence for conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance.

In a sworn deposition taken at the center last month, “Mr. Zachman testified … that he had physical and sexual relations with Ms. Pilkington on three to four occasions during April and May of 1992,” Durkin’s letter states.

Durkin wrote that Zachman changed his story to avoid committing perjury and violating a plea agreement involving the drug charges.

, DataTimes


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