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Thursday, February 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Airway Heights prison therapist confronted, quits

Female’s relationship with male sex offender crossed line, officials say

A female therapist who specialized in sexual deviancy treatment at the Airway Heights Corrections Center resigned after having an inappropriate relationship with a male sex offender, prison officials said Thursday.

The employee, a therapist in the Sex Offender Treatment Program, voluntarily resigned April 11 when corrections staff discovered an offender being victimized, corrections spokeswoman Risa Klemme said.

Employee guidelines do not allow relationships between offenders and staff, Klemme said, and the facility has zero tolerance for sexual harassment or inappropriate relations.

“Sometimes staff choose to ignore that and do things they shouldn’t,” Klemme said. “Nobody deserves to be sexually exploited or raped in prison.”

The Airway Heights Police Department is investigating the incident for criminal charges, Sgt. Robert Swan said Thursday. Officers were called to the prison at 4:10 p.m. on April 11 after the employee was confronted by her supervisors, he said.

Both agencies declined to release the former employee’s name or the nature of the inappropriate relations.

Swan said the employee would face a charge of first-degree custodial sexual misconduct if charges are filed. Washington state law describes that charge as a perpetrator employed by a correctional agency having sexual intercourse with a resident of a prison.

There have been few incidents of inappropriate relations in recent years, Klemme added.

There are 19 staff members in the Sexual Offender Treatment Program, including therapists and support staff. There are 108 offenders participating in the program, Klemme said.

The program manages sex offenders in prison as they undergo sexual deviancy treatment, according to the Washington Department of Corrections.

Airway Heights Corrections Center is a medium-security facility for male offenders.

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