A Benton County corrections officer has lost his job and faces a misdemeanor charge for allegedly having sexual contact with a 29-year-old female county jail inmate.
The woman, whose name was not released, told sheriff's detectives she was cleaning a rest room at the Toyota Center during a work crew assignment in January 2009 when the crew supervisor, Gregory Andre Brown, stepped into the bathroom and made flattering remarks.
One thing led to another, she said,culminating in sexual contact, according to court documents.
Brown, 38, of Kennewick, is accused of second-degree custodial sexual misconduct, said County Prosecutor Andy Miller.
Miller said the activity between the officer and the inmate may have appeared to be consensual, but Washington law presumes an inmate cannot give consent to a sex act with a law enforcement or corrections officer.
"Had this occurred between two people and there had not been an inmate, there would be no criminal charge. The inmate doesn't have the choice to give consent," Miller said.
The incident remained sec-ret until May, when the female inmate revealed details of it in a letter to a friend. Miller said the letter was not delivered, but returned to the sender, who was back in the county jail on a different arrest.
Jail staff followed standard procedure, which is to open all inmate mail, and discovered the information incriminating Brown.
The letter's contents were "inadvertent," Miller said, but it was enough for Brown to be put on paid administrative leave May 4.
"We were assuming he was innocent," Miller said.
The decision to terminate Brown came after an investigation that resulted in Benton County Superior Court charges against him, Miller said.
After intercepting the letter, sheriff's detectives interviewed the inmate. She told them Brown entered the bathroom, made comments about her body and kissed her. The encounter included removal of some of her clothing and sexual contact, according to a court affidavit.
"There was no force or coercion," Miller said.
Brown had been a county employee since 1991.
If found guilty, he could face up to one year in jail.
Brown also likely would never again be employed as a corrections or law enforcement officer, said sheriff's Capt. Steve Keane.