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Former inmate at Sierra County Detention Center recounts sexual assaults

Updated: 08/29/2014 10:37 PM | Created: 08/29/2014 10:19 PM
By: Danielle Todesco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES -- A day after reporting about 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, KOB spoke with a former inmate at the detention center about the horrors she says she endured.

The woman, who didn't want to be identified, is out on bond after serving time for vehicular homicide charges. She said she was afraid to come forward, but hopes that no other inmates at the jail ever have to endure what she did.

Documents detailing the investigation by Truth or Consequences police, along with allegations made by the former inmate, say that some of the sexual relations were consensual, but a "majority" of them weren’t.

Some of the female inmates reported to police they had relationships with guards in and out of the jail. But the former inmate whom KOB spoke to said her experience was definitely not consensual.

"They took a lot of nude pictures of me, and [I was] possibly raped by every male; there was even a female officer who was bisexual," the former inmate said. "This went on for over five days. I was drugged and couldn't walk…I would have to crawl to the toilet."

She said she never came forward about what happened until seeing Thursday's report on guards Virgil Eaton, Joshua Corley and Miguel Herrera, men she says she know from her two-month stay at the Sierra County Detention Center.

"I was bruised from head to toe; [there were] finger marks on my legs like they were forcing my legs open," the former inmate recounted. "I knew what was going on; I knew what happened to me but I was scared."

She now plans to contact investigators, and says she hopes it will prevent this from ever happening again.

The Sierra County Manager, Bruce Swingle, says the center has already made changes to protect the inmates. Swingle says one of the changes in place is to have only female guards interact with the female inmates.

"These are very serious allegations that have been made, and the county wants to ensure everybody that we're taking the appropriate steps to ensure that it doesn't happen again," Swingle said.

He also said the detention center is addressing the "blind spots" in the jail's surveillance system, but the former inmate said it's too late to fix what has happened.

"It's brought so much damage to my life because what they took from me…I can't get it back," she said. "Just the hurt and how they hurt me…they took advantage of a helpless person… [they] drugged me, and I don't want this happening to anybody again."

Since the allegations came to light, the county has appointed a lieutenant in the Sheriff's Department take control of the detention center.

Former guard Virgil Eaton is already in custody, and a local newspaper reports that Herrera has since been arrested as well. There is still a warrant out for a third former guard, Joshua Corley.


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