Friday, April 09, 1999

Investigation of guard reopened

Teen inmate accused him of groping

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — A juvenile corrections officer initially cleared in an investigation into sexual misconduct now faces possible dismissal, officials said Thursday.

        Jay Hurd, who was hired as a guard in August 1996, was suspended with pay Monday after prosecutors and sheriff's detec tives revived an earlier investigation that led to criminal charges against two other guards. He is accused of groping a teen-age female inmate at the Warren County Juvenile Detention Center in December, officials said.

        The Hamilton man was one of three corrections officers investigated in January after female inmates complained that guards had sexual intercourse with them, made lewd remarks or exposed themselves.

        Mr. Hurd was placed on paid leave in January because of the allegations, but was allowed to return because the accusations against him could not be substantiated.

        The teen-age girl had complained that Mr. Hurd touched her buttocks and “chest area” on Dec. 23 or Dec. 24 while she was an inmate at the center, according to juvenile court records obtained by The Cincinnati Enquirer.

        The investigation was reopened last month after Warren County Assistant Prosecutor Mike Powell and Sgt. Mark Duvelius of the Warren County Sheriff's Office reviewed the case.

        Sgt. Duvelius conducts internal investigations for other departments as part of his job.

        “We felt some of the questions posed to the juvenile involved were not artfully drafted, not specific enough,” Mr. Powell said Thursday, referring to detectives' earlier interviews with the girl.

        “It's not meant as a criticism on what was previously done. We thought that because of the nature of the allegations it certainly would not be counterproductive to look at it again ... to be sure.”

        When news of the January investigation became public, Warren County Juvenile Judge Mark Clark told the Enquirer he thought the girl might have fabricated the story as a way to get out of detention early.

        Neither Judge Clark nor Mr. Hurd could be reached.

        Sheriff's detectives reinterviewed Mr. Hurd and the girl in March and subjected each to voice stress analysis, which measures the anxiety in a voice and is similar to a lie detector test.

        Mr. Hurd appeared Wednesday in juvenile court for a disciplinary hearing on administrative charges of mistreating a resident, and for immoral conduct. Laura Sutherland, director of juvenile court services, is expected to render a decision by early next week, Mr. Powell said. Mr. Hurd was notified that he could be fired.

        Despite the disciplinary action, Mr. Powell said there is not enough evidence to prosecute Mr. Hurd on sex charges.

        “What we have to consider is that the burden of proof in a criminal case is considerably greater than in an employment case. Based on what we have right now, we do not believe we have evidence of a quality to support a criminal prosecution,” he said.

        Two of Mr. Hurd's former colleagues — Timothy Million Jr., 30, of Middletown, and Charles “Eddie” Heiber, 28, of Hamilton — face criminal charges in the case. Both have denied the charges.

        Mr. Million is to go on trial June 28 in Warren County Common Pleas Court on three felony counts each of sexual battery and corruption of a minor and six misdemeanor counts of contributing to the unruliness or de linquency of a child.

        Accusations against him include having intercourse with a 14-year-old female inmate at the facility in September and October 1998, making lewd comments to other girls and ordering a 16-year-old inmate to expose herself.

        Mr. Heiber is to go on trial May 12 in Lebanon Municipal Court on two counts of public indecency and three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He is accused of exposing himself to two female inmates on Christmas.

        Both had worked briefly at the juvenile detention center. Mr. Million was fired and Mr. Heiber resigned in the midst of the January investigation.

        Juvenile court records indicate that Mr. Hurd logged job-related problems before he came under investigation in January.

        Three weeks after he was hired, Mr. Hurd received a verbal warning for mishandling a physical confrontation with an inmate. He received a written reprimand in May 1997 for not calling in sick on time, for not coming to work in uniform, and for having an unprofessional spat with his colleagues.

        In February 1998, Mr. Hurd was suspended for three days for leaving work early without permission.

        Three months later, records show that Mr. Hurd was questioned in an internal investigation at the center, but it was unclear who was under investigation at the time.

        The series of reprimands led Mr. Hurd, who is black, to file a complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, his personnel file indicates. The complaint was dropped in April 1998, when Mr. Hurd filed a similar complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that juvenile court officials had unfairly singled him out for disciplinary action.

        Last October, Mr. Hurd again received a verbal warning for being late for work and failing to give sufficient notice when he called in sick.


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