Ex-jailer's trial opens

December 04, 2001 12:00 am

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

A former Del Norte County jail inmate took the witness stand yesterday, claiming she was threatened by her jailer and forced to have sex with him.

The defendant, James Brian Weaver, watched silently as the witness, Natalie Curington, testified she performed oral sex on Weaver in the county jail last March.

He said if I didnt do what he wanted me to hed share me with his friends and make my life a living hell, said Curington, who also admitted to flirting with Weaver and other officers while she served time for violating a court order. Im not saying by any means I was an angel, but I respected and always looked up to officers.

Curington said when she was first booked into the jail, Weaver complimented her and she was receptive. He asked me if I was game and I said yes at that point, Curington said. I was flirting, I was totally flirting. I was flaunting myself.

Curington admitted she would often expose her breasts to cafeteria workers while she was in jail to get extra food. But after several encounters with Weaver, Curington said she had a change of heart.

Id much rather he acted like he cared about me rather than used me, said Curington, who said she later agreed to a wearing a microphone after her release to secretly tape a conversation between her and Weaver.

The jury read a transcript while District Attorney Robert Drossel played the often-inaudible tape in court. During the conversation, Curington can be heard mentioning having sexual encounters with Weaver but the defendants responses were unclear.

Hed nod a lot. He didnt talk as much as I talked. He just mostly nodded, like this, said Curington as she nodded her head in a positive motion.

The jury showed little emotion while Curington often smiled and directed her answers toward them when replying to Drossels questions. Judge Robert Weir adjourned the courtroom before defense attorney Edward Fishman could cross-examine Curington, the only witness to testify yesterday.

In opening statements, Drossel said Weaver had, clearly breached the trust and confidence of his position with inmates at the Del Norte County jail while they were inmates at the jail.

Fishman, however, focused his statement on the credibility of the two female witnesses.

These two women have very colorful pasts. These two women have a reason to color their stories, said Fishman. Curingtons story changes (and) it changes a lot ... her story changes based upon other investigations going on in the department.

Weaver was booked on July 17 after he was alleged to have had sexual contact with Curington during a four-day period in March, and to have sexually battered a second female inmate in May while he worked as a senior jailer at Del Norte County jail.

The trial resumes this morning at the Del Norte County Courthouse.