Wilcox County, Georgia, Sheriff, Son and Jailer Face Civil Rights Charges in Superseding Indictment
The Justice Department, along with U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore, Middle District of Georgia, today announced that a grand jury returned a superseding indictment against former Wilcox County Sheriff Stacy Bloodsworth; his son, Austin Bloodsworth; and former Wilcox County Jailer Casey Owens. The superseding indictment charges the defendants with assaulting three different inmates inside of the Wilcox County Jail on July 23, 2009, thereby violating their civil rights. As a result of the assaults, one inmate suffered a broken jaw, and two other inmates sustained bruises and scratches. The indictment also charges the defendants with conspiring to cover up the assaults. In addition, Stacy Bloodsworth and Austin Bloodsworth were charged with lying to the FBI, while Owens was charged with writing a false report about the incident. Stacy Bloodsworth was charged with tampering with one of the victims, as well as two witnesses.
In addition to the civil rights and obstruction of justice charges stemming from the assaults that took place on July 23, 2009, the superseding indictment also charges Stacy Bloodsworth with violating the civil rights of individuals on two other occasions. Former-Sheriff Bloodsworth is charged with assaulting Wilcox County Jail inmate M.A. in July 2009, causing him to suffer a laceration and pain. It also charges the former sheriff with assaulting N.S. in November 2009, causing him to suffer a concussion, bruising, and pain.
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, Stacy Bloodsworth faces a maximum penalty of 20 years for each count of witness tampering, while Owens faces a maximum penalty of 20 years for his writing a false report.
A prior indictment, which was unsealed on Feb. 17, 2012, charged Stacy Bloodsworth, Austin Bloodsworth, Owens and former Wilcox County Jail trustee Willie James Caruthers with civil rights violations in connection with the July 23, 2009, assault of the three inmates; with conspiring to cover up the assaults; and with committing various obstruction of justice offenses.
On April 4, 2012, defendant Caruthers pleaded guilty to acting with several others, including law enforcement officials, to assault an inmate in the Wilcox County Jail on July 23, 2009. Caruthers also pleaded guilty to conspiring to tamper with a witness in connection with the assault. During his plea hearing and in his factual basis, Caruthers admitted that he, along with several other individuals, including law enforcement officers, assaulted Wilcox County inmate K.H., causing K.H. to suffer a broken jaw. Caruthers further admitted that he was present when several individuals, including then-Sheriff Bloodsworth, assaulted inmates K.F. and T.O., causing both of them to sustain bruises, scratches and pain. Caruthers further admitted that he conspired with several other people, including Stacy Bloodsworth, to cover up the fact that law enforcement officials and others had used excessive force against inmates K.H., K.F. and T.O. Caruthers acknowledged that the plan of the conspiracy was for the co-conspirators to prepare false reports and submit them to Wilcox County Sheriff’s Office officials, and to make statements consistent with those false reports to anyone inquiring about the excessive use of force incident. When Caruthers is sentenced, he faces a maximum penalty of up to 10 years on the civil rights violation, and a maximum penalty of up to five years on the conspiracy charge.
On March 5, 2012, former South Central Georgia Drug Task Force Agent Timothy King Jr., 31, pleaded guilty to a bill of information charging him with conspiring to tamper with a witness in connection with the July 23, 2009 assaults of inmates K.H., K.F. and T.O. During his plea hearing, King admitted that he conspired with several other people, including a law enforcement official, to cover up the fact that law enforcement officials and others had used excessive force against the three inmates. When King is sentenced, he faces a maximum penalty of up to five years.
This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Gerard V. Hogan and Trial Attorney Christine M. Siscaretti of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant United States 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.