An investigation is underway after an inmate reported being sexually assaulted by another inmate at the Fayette County Detention Center, a jail spokesperson confirmed Friday.
The victim reported the incident to a corrections officer Wednesday afternoon, said Maj. Matt LeMonds from Lexington’s Department of Community Corrections. The inmate told the corrections officer they were the victim of a sexual assault committed by another inmate.
“The Division of Community Corrections and the Lexington Police Department are actively investigating this incident and criminal charges have been filed,” LeMonds said in an email to the Herald-Leader.
LeMonds didn’t give specific information on how jail staff responded to the incident but said the jail does have protocol in place for when a sexual assault occurs.
“I can’t speak to specifics as far as the individuals involved in this incident, but in the event of an alleged sexual assault we do transport the victim to a local area hospital for a proper examination,” LeMonds said. “The alleged offender would also be subject to internal disciplinary sanctions in addition to criminal charges.”
LeMonds wouldn’t release any other details about the incident, citing the active investigation.
Michael Harris, the president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 83, said the assault happened while an officer was on break. Lodge No. 83 is the union which represents Lexington’s corrections officers. Harris said the incident was tragic but that the jail is still dealing with staffing shortages and incidents aren’t “unexpected.”
Harris said the jail doesn’t have enough officers to completely patrol the jail, an issue which has frequently come up in the past year.
Staffing shortages were a frequently-raised issue as the city and the union negotiated for two years in an effort to reach a new contract agreement. The two sides reached an agreement in February. At the time the agreement was reached in February, the jail had approximately 120 staff vacancies.
Late last year, Harris raised the same concerns and said the jail was “not a safe place to work.”
But Mayor Linda Gorton’s office said there hasn’t been any indication yet that the incident happened due to a staffing shortage.
“We are investigating,” said Susan Straub, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office. “So far we have found nothing to substantiate the claim that this is related to a staffing issue. The investigation continues.”
Harris said he feels the city’s administration is “disconnected from public safety.”
“Besides a few people, like (Lexington Councilman) Richard (Moloney) and others that have come and backed up and supported us, but I have never in my life seen an administration that is so disconnected with their public safety,” Harris said.