January 26, 2008 in City

Woman sues Spokane County, ex-guard

Meghann M. Cuniff Staff writer

A former Geiger Corrections Center inmate has filed suit against Spokane County and the former corrections guard who admitted in court to having sex with her, alleging she was raped during the Jan. 25, 2006, encounter.

Bernard R. Baumgardner pleaded guilty to felony first-degree custodial sexual misconduct in June 2006. He said the sex with the inmate was consensual but acknowledged that he broke the law by engaging in prohibited contact with the prisoner. He was sentenced to 12 months probation and 240 hours of community service and must register as a sex offender.

According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, Baumgardner began to approach the woman – a federal inmate – in December 2005 while she worked laundry duty at the prison.

He told her he found her attractive and fantasized about sex with her, according to the complaint, in which the woman seeks unspecified damages.

When the inmate declined Baumgardner’s advances, Baumgardner threatened to make her life difficult if she reported him, according to the complaint.

The alleged rape took place in the prison’s workout room. The incident was reported to a Geiger counselor, and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office investigated. Baumgardner resigned, said Leon Long, former Geiger director.

The woman was taken to the emergency room and diagnosed with “sexual assault with vaginal contusion,” according to the complaint. She was able to describe for detectives a distinguishing mark on Baumgardner’s body, according to court documents.

A county representative said the county hadn’t received the complaint and declined comment.

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