By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

A criminal investigation into sexual misconduct at the Del Norte County Jail has now officially reached the district attorneys office, according to county prosecutors.

The full package has come in and I am in the process of looking into it, said District Attorney Robert Drossel. I am trying to get ahold of a witness in this matter.

Drossel said if he does file a charge, it will be for inappropriate sexual activity with a confined inmate.

When contacted yesterday, Sheriff Jim Maready said he was not prepared to make any comments, and would contact the Triplicate when he was ready.

According to Drossel, no arrests have been made, and he is still determining whether or not he has sufficient evidence to prosecute.

The California Department of Justice can sometimes step in and conduct an impartial investigation when help is requested.

Mike Van Winkle, spokesman for the California Department of Justice, said he couldnt confirm one way or the other whether his office has been contacted by Del Norte County officials.

The justice department would not normally become involved in a law enforcement agency investigations unless that office was invited.

Normally, our role is to get involved when there is a clear conflict of interest, Van Winkle said. The attorney general has the authority to come in and take over investigations, but it has to be apparent that the original investigation had been done to intentionally favor one side over the other.

Van Winkle said this uninvited usurpation of authority over a local investigation hasnt happened in about 10 years, and at that time it was done sometime after the local investigation had concluded.

When asked if the size of Del Norte Countys sheriffs office would pose a conflict of interest, Van Winkle said it is possible.

It could be. I can certainly say yes, in some cases, he said. Where you have a relatively small agency, where everybody knows everybody, there is more possibility of a conflict. Often what will happen in those cases, the agency will ask for another agency to come in and conduct the investigation.