New sex abuse charges at Fort Worth federal care facility

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There are many types of sexual offenses. Sometimes abuse can even be consensual. For example, federal law declares that a corrections officer commits an act of sexual abuse, even if an inmate agrees to have sex. Any sexual contact, with or without mutual consent, is illegal between guards and inmates, according to a report by the inspector general of the U.S. Justice Department.

Recently, a staff member at the Federal Medical Center Carswell was accused of having sex with a female inmate, imprisoned in "official detention." The facility is a medical and mental health center at Naval Air Station Fort Worth.

A physician who worked at the federal facility for over four years claims he learned of at least one dozen sexual abuse incidents. The ex-staff member said the sexual abuse risks to inmates were real. The doctor stated the incidents were not isolated, as Carswell officials claim. He also stated that there were instances where personnel were falsely accused of sexual abuse.

According to a lawyer who represented a past sexual assault victim, the Carswell federal medical facility is unsafe for female inmates, most of whom are imprisoned on drug charges.

A Justice Department report found that 58 inmates reported sexual abuse at Carswell between 2001 and 2008. Officials at the federal facility did not state what, if any, security measures were taken after the report was released.

The most recent accusation against a corrections officer was preceded by two sexual abuse cases, one in which a Carswell chaplain was found guilty of abusing an inmate and imprisoned for four years. In 2004, a Carswell guard found guilty of rape was sentenced to prison for 12 1/2 years and ordered to pay more than $200,000 in restitution.

The latest charges say a Granbury corrections officer, a former Hood County Sheriff's Department employee, sexually abused a woman inmate in early November. The guard subsequently resigned.

Transferring an accused employee, rather than an inmate, is standard policy at Carswell, according to the sexual abuse prevention program at the medical center. Transfers for inmates are not encouraged because a patient may need treatment only available at the federal medical center.

Source: Star-Telegram, "Guard accused of sexually abusing inmate in Fort Worth," Darren Barbee, Dec. 22, 2011