Crime

Fired corrections officer guilty in Kennewick sex case

KENNEWICK — A former corrections officer's guilty plea Wednesday to having sex with a female inmate on a work crew ensures he won't be able to get his job back.

Gregory Andre Brown, 38, was sentenced in Benton County Superior Court to 365 days in jail with all of the time suspended.

The 29-year-old inmate said she was cleaning a rest room at the Toyota Center during a work crew assignment in January 2009 when Brown, the crew supervisor, stepped into the bathroom and made flattering remarks, court documents said.

Prosecutors said the sexual activity that followed might 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.

Brown had no criminal history before his Alford plea to official misconduct, a gross misdemeanor. The Alford plea means he denied committing the crime but believed prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him.

He originally was charged with one count of second-degree custodial sexual misconduct, which also was a gross misdemeanor.

The Kennewick man had been a Benton County employee since 1991. He was placed on administrative leave May 4 after the allegations first came to light, then was fired last summer from his jail job once the investigation was done and Prosecutor Andy Miller filed the criminal charge.

The incident was revealed when the inmate was back in jail on a different arrest in early May. She gave details in a letter that she sent from the jail. But the letter could not be delivered and was returned. Standard procedure is for the jail staff to open all inmate mail.

Brown was appealing his termination from the Benton County Sheriff's Office, but a criminal conviction for this crime makes it almost certain he no longer can work as a corrections officer, Miller said.

"By him pleading guilty, he would not be eligible to get his job back, and there was no disagreement from either (Brown) or his lawyer," he said.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com

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