INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Indiana State Police detectives are investigating after a male inmate at the Marion County Jail was found having sex with a female inmate. Administrators confirmed to I-Team 8 that the male inmate was "mistakenly" put in the female's cell.
The male inmate, whose identity has not been confirmed by the department, was placed in a cell block inside the jail by a guard around 5 p.m. on Wednesday after returning from a court appearance, Marion County Chief Deputy Eva Talley-Sanders told I-Team 8. That cell block contained 15 individual cells, one of which was occupied by a female inmate who had been moved into the block after the male inmate was taken to court.
The deputy who placed the male inmate in the cell block said he "did not see" that a female inmate was occupying one of the cells, jail administrators said.
"I believe she might have been around the corner at the time. He did indicate that he did not see [anyone else]," Talley-Sanders said.
The deputy went to retrieve a pen requested by the inmate, she added. When he returned to the cell "three to four minutes later," he found the male having sex with the female, whose identity is not being disclosed.
The male inmate is being held on auto theft and receiving stolen property charges on hold from Boone County. The female inmate is in jail on five counts of prostitution and public indecency charges, a Sheriff's Office spokesperson said.
The male inmate told guards that the sex was consensual. The female inmate denies that and told guards she was raped. She was taken to Wishard Memorial Hospital for evaluation and treatment. The results of tests taken there are not yet available, Talley-Sanders said.
The names of the deputy who placed the inmate in the wrong cell has not yet been released, as the investigation is ongoing, a department spokesperson said. None of the staff involved have been placed on any sort of leave.
"We don't believe they are [putting other inmates at risk], and that's why we did not put the deputies involved on administrative leave," Talley-Sanders said.
Indiana State Police spokesman Captain David Bursten confirmed no arrest has been made in the case, but the female inmate has been moved to a jail in another county.
"We will submit our findings to the Marion County Prosecutor, and he will then determine what the next steps might be," Bursten said. "That could take several weeks."
No surveillance video exists of the transfer of the inmates nor of the alleged rape, Talley-Sanders said, and internal affairs investigators are still working to determine what other deputies may have seen or heard.
"There was so much activity, we're not sure who saw what," she said.
Inmates of the opposite sex can be housed on the same floor, but are kept on different sides of the jail, Talley-Sanders said. She echoed written comments by Sheriff John Layton, blaming jail overcrowding as part of the problem.
"Because we're constantly moving to make more room for inmates, this is how that actually happened," she said.
Jail records showed 1,060 inmates in the jail on Wednesday, which administrators acknowledged is 90 inmates under the jail's capacity.
"But, inmates are being constantly moved, and you have to remember we are dealing with juveniles, people with mental illnesses and others as well," Talley-Sanders said.
The Marion County Jail was recently named in a U.S. Department of Justice report as having the highest rate of sexual misconduct by guards in the nation.
Layton has blasted the DOJ report as "false and misleading," but Talley-Sanders said this latest incident is being taken seriously. She said an internal investigation is underway to determine if lack of training or lack of oversight might be to blame.
"It's serious. We're very concerned. It's probably all of those things. We have a staff shortage. However, there's no excuse for not doing the job we're commissioned to do," she said.
Talley-Sanders said the department is not concerned about the possibility of legal action being taken in connection with the case.
"We're concerned about doing the right thing for the right reasons," she said. "And, that's why we're investigating."
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