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Sierra County Detention Center guards arrested on allegations of sex with inmates

Updated: 08/29/2014 6:12 PM | Created: 08/28/2014 9:55 PM
By: Danielle Todesco, KOB Eyewitness News 4 and Blair Miller, KOB.com

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES -- Several detention officers at a New Mexico jail are accused of using the facility as their personal sex service.

At least three officers at the Sierra County Detention Center in Truth or Consequences are said to have bribed or threatened female inmates into having sexual relations with them.

Two of the officers are already confirmed to be in custody, according to court records: 38-year-old Virgil Eaton and 22-year-old Miguel Herrera. 23-year-old Joshua Corley has a warrant out for his arrest.

The Herald of Tuth or Consequences wrote in a Facebook post Thursday that all three were in custody. A Wednesday article by The Herald said another man, 19-year-old Kennedy Griffis, had been charged with two counts of trafficking a controlled substance into the jail.

According to court documents, there are a few places inside the jail hidden from view of security cameras. In those blind spots, Eaton and other detention officers allegedly harassed female inmates, and in some cases, had sexual encounters with them.

"A lot of inmates have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse against them…being forced to do sexual acts that they didn't want to do. They've tried to tell guards in the past about it, and nobody would do anything," said Sierra County Detention Center guard William White, who blew the whistle on the alleged sexual encounters.

"I took those allegations and went to the detectives here in Truth or Consequences with that."

White said he went to authorities six months ago, and the Truth or Consequences Police Department arrested Eaton on Wednesday.

All three of the men are accused of having sexual encounters with female inmates at the jail.

Eaton is accused of threatening several inmates and trying to bribe them into sex.

Documents detail the interviews with several female inmates, who say Eaton tried to receive oral sex in exchange for prescription pills. In one case, he's accused of telling an inmate he would get her charges dismissed if she had sex with him.

The other two men are accused of going into parts of the jail kitchen or stairwell, which were hidden from cameras, and groping the women.

Documents also say Corley and Herrera had separate sexual encounters with inmates both in and out of jail.

Neither of the men work at the jail currently, but White says there's a lot more that needs to change inside the jail.

"It's a hostile work environment. The guards that are bringing up the allegations – we've been told to be quiet about it. Our families are harassed at work," White said. "But we have to feed our families, so I don't really have a choice at this time to quit."

He also says there is almost no supervision over the guards giving out prescription pills to inmates, and that he expects many more arrests to come over the sexual encounters.

Virgil Eaton

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