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Friday, August 15, 2008
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Former Grant County, Kentucky Detention Center Officers Found Guilty of Civil Rights Violations in Teenager Rape Case

WASHINGTON A Kentucky jury convicted Wesley Lanham and Shawn Freeman, both former deputy jailers, on federal civil rights, conspiracy, and obstruction charges, the Justice Department announced today. The defendants, former deputies at the Grant County Detention Center were found guilty of conspiring to violate the civil rights of a teenage traffic offender when they arranged for him to be raped by inmates. The jury convicted the defendants on all charges and specifically found that the defendants were responsible for the aggravated sexual assault carried out by the inmates.

The defendants face up to life in prison when they are sentenced on December 8, 2008.

The case stemmed from an incident that occurred on Valentine’s Day in 2003, when the defendants, along with their supervisor, former Sergeant Shawn Sydnor, taunted an 18-year-old high school student who had been brought to the detention center on a speeding charge. The deputies teased the teenager about his physical appearance and told him that he would make a good "girlfriend" for the other inmates. The defendants then solicited a group of convicted felons housed in a general population cell to scare and "mess with" the teenager. After eliciting an agreement from the inmates, the officers left the teenager in the cell where he was sexually assaulted by the other inmates.

When the teenager’s father reported the incident and demanded an investigation, the defendants falsified their official reports relating to the treatment of the teenager.

Sydnor, previously pleaded guilty to civil rights and conspiracy charges and faces up to 15 years in prison.

This case was prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Kristy L. Parker and Trial Attorney Forrest Christian of the Criminal Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.