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Press Release

Former Missouri Prison Guard Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for Assault on Inmate, Possession of Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

ST. LOUIS – A former Missouri prison guard who assaulted an inmate and also possessed child pornography was sentenced to seven years in prison Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Ronnie L. White.  

On Oct. 28, 2021, after a verbal disagreement with an inmate about a poster that was damaged during a search of his cell, Carl Hart ordered the victim out of his office in the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre. Later, when the victim did not immediately return to his cell during a lockdown, two other corrections officers pepper-sprayed the victim. The victim went to the shower to wash off the spray. Hart followed the victim into the shower, struck the victim there and again after the victim had left the shower and was on the ground, handcuffed and compliant. Hart was a sergeant and had worked for the Department of Corrections for 10 years at the time.

In a victim impact letter, the assault victim wrote that the attack had left him with scars in multiple places on his head, face and hand “that I have to look at everyday for the rest of my life,” as well as “the permanent blurry vision in my eye, for the separated and infected ribs I had for 10 months. For the mental trauma I still suffer from – from being beaten by those who were supposed to protect me.”

In a separate investigation, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received a tip about suspected child pornography in Hart’s Dropbox account. The Missouri Highway Patrol Digital Forensics Unit found child pornography in Dropbox and on one of Hart’s phones.

One of the victims depicted in the child sexual abuse material found in Hart’s possession wrote, “Knowing that some sick person is looking at me on a computer everyday in a way that no one should look at a kid makes me feel violated, it gives me the jeebers, and it makes me want to throw up.”

In court Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Krug said, “The defendant did not protect the children being sexually abused in the photos and videos he collected and viewed, he perpetuated their victimization.” She added that Hart also “did not protect a prisoner he was charged with keeping safe.”

Hart, 37, of Farmington, pleaded guilty in May to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law and two counts of possession of child pornography and admitted the above conduct.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Missouri Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Krug prosecuted the case.

Updated October 4, 2023

Civil Rights