Today, the Justice Department announced that former Sheriff of Wilcox County, Ga., Stacy Bloodsworth was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assaulting an inmate inside the Wilcox County Jail and for conspiring to cover up the assault. Four other people have also been sentenced for their roles in the same assault and cover-up. Bloodsworth’s son, Austin Bloodsworth, was sentenced to 18 months in prison; former Wilcox County inmate-trustee Willie James Caruthers was sentenced to 18 months in prison; former South Central Georgia Drug Task Force Agent Timothy King Jr. was sentenced to 6 months in prison and former Wilcox County Jailer Casey Owens was sentenced to probation.
Stacy Bloodsworth pleaded guilty on Oct. 22, 2012. During his plea hearing, Stacy Bloodsworth admitted that on July 23, 2009, while he was the sheriff, he was inside the Wilcox County Jail with several other individuals, including Austin Bloodsworth, Caruthers, King and Owens. Stacy Bloodsworth ordered three inmates out of their cells because he was angry that one of them reportedly had a cell phone, in violation of Wilcox County Jail regulations. Bloodsworth hit all three inmates, and also watched as other participants struck and kicked the inmates. After it appeared that one inmate’s jaw had been broken, Stacy Bloodsworth used a wrench in an attempt to put his broken jaw back into place. Approximately one week later, the inmate was brought to a local hospital, where his jaw had to be wired shut. The other two inmates who had been assaulted suffered lacerations, bruising and pain.
During the plea hearing, Stacy Bloodsworth further admitted that he concocted a false cover story about the assaults in order to cover up the involvement of the law enforcement officials. Specifically, Stacy Bloodsworth ordered Caruthers, Austin Bloodsworth, King and Owens that, if they were ever questioned about the incident, they should say that Caruthers and the victim got into a fight after the inmate called Caruthers a racial slur. Stacy Bloodsworth, knowing that this statement was false, also instructed Caruthers and Owens to write this false cover story in a report. In addition, in August 2010, after learning that the inmate whose jaw had been broken had hired an attorney and had initiated a lawsuit, then-Sheriff Bloodsworth met with King and Owens and again instructed them that to relay the false story about the cause of the inmate’s broken jaw. In April 2011, then-Sheriff Bloodsworth relayed the false cover story regarding the cause of inmate’s broken jaw to FBI Special Agents.
“Today’s sentence reflects that law enforcement officers who assault inmates in their custody and make false statements erode the trust of the people they have sworn to protect,” said Roy L. Austin Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting law enforcement officers who abuse their power and violate the constitutional rights of individuals in their custody.”
“We expect our law enforcement officers to protect and serve the public, but in this case the defendants did neither,” said U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Michael Moore. “The sentences handed down today bring closure to an alarming case, where those sworn to uphold the law now feel the full weight of it.”
Caruthers pleaded guilty to assaulting the inmate, and to conspiring to cover up the assault. Austin Bloodsworth and Timothy King Jr. each pleaded guilty to conspiring to cover up the assault, while Owens pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony.
This case was investigated by the FBI and was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Christine M. Siscaretti and Special Litigation Counsel Gerard V. Hogan of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.