Wilcox County, Georgia, Sheriff and Three Men Charged with Federal Civil Rights Violations
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today a 14-count indictment charging Wilcox County, Ga., Sheriff Stacy Bloodsworth; his son, Austin Bloodsworth; former Wilcox County Jailer Casey Owens; and former inmate Willie James Caruthers, for violating the rights of an inmate.
The indictment charges that the Sheriff, Austin Bloodsworth, and Caruthers assaulted two inmates, while they and Owens assaulted a third inmate inside of the Wilcox County Jail on July 23, 2009, therefore violating the inmates’ civil rights. As a result of the assaults, one inmate suffered a broken jaw and two inmates sustained bruises and scratches. The indictment also charges the defendants with conspiring to cover up the assaults. In addition, Sheriff Bloodsworth, Austin Bloodsworth and Caruthers were charged with lying to the FBI, and Caruthers and Owens were charged with obstructing justice by writing false reports. Sheriff Bloodsworth was charged with tampering with one of the victims and with two witnesses.
The civil rights charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years for each count, and the conspiracy and false statements charges carry a maximum penalty of up to five years. Additionally, Sheriff Bloodsworth faces a maximum penalty of 20 years for each count of witness-tampering, and Caruthers and Owens face maximum penalties of 20 years for their falsification of reports.
This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Christine M. Siscaretti of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul C. McCommon III of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.