By Nicholas Grube
Triplicate staff writer
A former Pelican Bay State Prison employee who was charged with three counts of having sex with inmates, pleaded guilty in Del Norte County Superior Court and is awaiting sentencing.
Bonnie S. Freeman, 51, a supervising cook at the maximum security prison, pleaded guilty May 4 to one felony count of engaging in oral copulation and sexual intercourse with an inmate from April 2006 to June 2006.
"That was the strongest count," Deputy District Attorney Katherine Micks said. "We had the most evidence on that count."
Micks said investigators had recorded phone calls, receipts and statements from at least one of the inmates.
"In her position she was around inmates, she supervised them...she just developed some relationships," Micks said.
"It was obviously a woman who was looking for companionship...and just made some bad choices."
However, Freeman's relationships didn't end when the inmates were released from prison.
"Ms. Freeman was keeping relationships with inmates even after they were paroled," District Attorney Mike Riese said. "It's unique. I've never had a female involved with this...It is the first time I've seen it in reverse" when a female employee is having sex with a male inmate instead of a male employee having sex with a female inmate.
But he said there are other factors that make this case unique as well Â– including the number of inmates involved.
Freeman was originally charged with having sex with three seperate inmates from April 2006 to February of this year. She was arrested on these charges on Feb. 26.
"I'm pleased that she basically owned up to this," Riese said. "Cases like this are delicate to present to a jury because you need to prove the sex acts themselves."
Pelican Bay officials could not comment on specifics involved in the case, but said they were in the process of taking action when Freeman resigned from the service.
Freeman could face up to three years in state prison but, because she pleaded, she'll be placed on probation and might face some jail time.
She will be sentenced June 14 in Del Norte County Superior Court.