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Press Release

Former Maury County Corrections Officer Sentenced for Obstructing Federal Civil Rights Investigation into Allegations of Sexual Misconduct with an Inmate

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Tennessee

NASHVILLE – A former corrections officer with the Maury County, Tennessee, Jail, James Stewart Justice, was sentenced on Friday to 15 months in prison and one year of supervised release. A federal jury previously convicted Justice of falsifying a record in a federal civil rights investigation for a report he wrote in response to allegations that he had sexually abused an inmate in his custody.

“Corrections officers are entrusted with immense power over the inmates in their care. The vast majority of them carry out their important jobs with honor and integrity,” said United States Attorney Henry C. Leventis for the Middle District of Tennessee. “This prosecution, and the sentence imposed last week, however, should serve as a reminder that we will not hesitate to hold corrections officers accountable when they violate the law and the public trust.”

“This defendant abused his authority as a corrections officer to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Law enforcement officers who oversee our jails and prisons have a responsibility to protect people in their custody. Officers must treat allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and document them carefully. We will continue holding officers accountable when they abuse their position of power to cover up their unlawful conduct.”

“This sentence is the result of relentless efforts by the FBI to bring to justice corrections personnel who abuse their position of trust,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas S. DePodesta of the FBI Memphis Field Office. “The FBI will continue to work with our partners to ensure the physical safety and civil rights of all individuals and ensure that any public servant who abuses their authority is held accountable.”

According to court documents, the defendant, formerly known as James Stewart Thomas, wrote an official report for the Maury County Jail in response to allegations that he had sexually abused an inmate he had guarded in a hospital room while the inmate recovered from major surgery. In his report, Justice falsely claimed that he had reported to two Maury County Jail supervisors that an inmate had made sexual advances toward him while the inmate was in his custody at the hospital, falsely claimed that those two Maury County Jail supervisors both advised him not to write a report about the inmate’s alleged sexual advances and omitted a claim he later made to criminal investigators that he had a sexual relationship with the inmate after the inmate’s release from custody.

The FBI Memphis Field Office, Nashville Resident Agency investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda J. Klopf for the Middle District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Kyle Boynton of the Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.

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Mark H. Wildasin

Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney

(615) 736-2079

Updated March 18, 2024

Civil Rights