KEY POINTS

  • A 32-year-old former prison officer in Alabama admitted to sexually abusing a female inmate and tampering with a witness
  • He knowingly engaged in a sexual act with an inmate while on duty as a corrections officer
  • He also attempted to persuade a fellow officer to provide false information to investigators about his sexual abuse of the inmate

A former Bureau of Prisons corrections officer at a facility in Aliceville, Alabama, admitted to sexually abusing a female inmate and tampering with a witness last year, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Eric Todd Ellis, 32, pleaded guilty in a federal court Tuesday to one count of sexual abuse of a ward and one count of tampering with a witness, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a statement.

Ellis had knowingly engaged in a sexual act with the unnamed female inmate in the back of the laundry room of the Federal Correctional Institution-Aliceville facility on or around June 11 last year, court documents showed. He had been on duty and acting in his capacity as a corrections officer during the incident.

The female inmate had been in official detention and was under Ellis' custodial authority, according to the DOJ. Ellis later admitted his conduct to another corrections officer, the statement said.

The DOJ's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) began investigating Ellis' conduct following the incident. During the investigation, Ellis told the corrections officer he previously spoke with about the incident on a recorded call to "just tell [the OIG agents]... I've just told you that nothing happened," according to the statement.

Ellis admitted in a plea agreement that he made the statement because he was attempting to persuade the other corrections officer to provide false information to OIG agents about his sexual abuse of the female inmate, the DOJ said.

"Ellis sexually abused an inmate in his custody and then tried to coerce another correctional officer to help him cover up his crime," Special Agent in Charge James Boyersmith of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General Miami Field Office was quoted as saying.

"Inmates detained inside jails and prisons have the right to be free from sexual assaults and sexually abusive behavior," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

 Ellis' sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 26, according to the DOJ.

prison-482619_1920 Representation. Eric Todd Ellis, 32, admitted to sexually abusing a female inmate while on-duty as a corrections officer. Photo: Pixabay