A Snohomish County Jail corrections officer accused of coercing a female inmate into sex earlier this year is on administrative leave and facing criminal charges.
Sean Wright, 34, was charged Thursday with first-degree custodial sexual misconduct, a felony. Wright, who has worked at the jail since June 2010, was not booked.
The alleged incident with a 35-year-old inmate came to the attention of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office in May after Kent police, in an unrelated investigation, learned that Wright had been accused of making sexual advances toward another female inmate.
Sheriff’s Detective Tyler Quick interviewed that inmate, and learned that Wright would allow several female inmates extra time out of their cells or other privileges if they let him watch them shower or change their clothes, according to charging paperwork.
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While several inmates said they complied, one woman, the 35-year-old who now lives in Kennewick, claims she had sex with him, charges said.
That woman told investigators that Wright brought her into a supply closet late one night and once inside he kissed her. He held her down and told her to perform a sex act and she complied, charging documents said.
The woman told Quick that “she was ashamed” and “thought she could get in trouble for what happened,” charges said.
The woman said Wright told her that she needed to trust him, according to the charges. Wright also reportedly told her that, “He could lose his job and get in ‘big trouble’ if anyone found out,” charges said.
The Office of Professional Accountability at the sheriff’s office has launched its own internal investigation into Wright. The sheriff’s office runs the Snohomish County Jail.
Earlier this year, then-Sheriff John Lovick requested the U.S. Department of Justice to assess operations and medical services at the jail, where eight inmates have died since 2010.
Based on the review, Ty Trenary, who became sheriff after Lovick became county executive last summer, updated the general policy and procedures manual for the jail. Trenary also hired a new jail health-services director and implemented an inmate policy review process, according to a news release.
Trenary is “aggressively and practically making changes in how we are operating the jail,” said sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton.
“Staff and inmate safety is a priority,” Ireton said.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.