By Kent Gray
Triplicate staff writer
Sexual misconduct charges were filed against a former Del Norte County Sheriffs Department correctional officer yesterday, according to District Attorney Robert Drossel.
James Weaver, 33, who worked in the county jail, was charged with two felony and three misdemeanor counts of sexual activity with an inmate and sexual battery.
Weavers last day on the job was May 4, when he was put on administrative leave. He was officially terminated on June 22.
Drossel said four of the counts derive from incidents that allegedly took place in March between Weaver and an unidentified female inmate. None of the charges allege sexual intercourse. According to Drossel, the most serious charge involves oral copulation.
Although sexual contact was reportedly consentual during the felonies, Drossel said they are still serious because they occurred under the color of authority.
A fifth charge of sexual battery was filed on behalf of a second unidentified female inmate, which involved alleged inappropriate rubbing and touching of the victim.
Maready said the two-month investigation was something he took very seriously.
Initially, a female brought this information to the attention of a deputy sheriff, and we immediately started the investigation, Maready said. Obviously, we looked into it right away, which was potentially a very serious matter.
During part of the investigation, deputies wired one of the female victims with a microphone, and she engaged Weaver in conversation.
If the situation warrants it, thats one of things we can do, Maready said. But I wouldnt want people to think we do that all the time; running around secretly taping people.
When asked if these charges will alter procedures at the jail, Maready said no.
Essentially there wont be any changes. We have very limited staffing, he said. Sometimes we have two officers even three officers available when transporting a prisoner, but in general that isnt always an option. Anybody can make allegations, (but) we have cameras in the back and in the hallways.
Weavers arraignment is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. July 20.
Drossel said Weaver was sent a letter to appear in court, and there are currently no plans for an arrest.
We dont see him as a flight risk, Drossel said. This is a more organized process, and we always know where he is. If he doesnt appear, then that will be another matter.
Maready said the investigation has been a difficult one for him and the department.
Its been a trying time for everyone involved, said Maready. It was simply unfortunate, and I wish it would never have happened.