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April 8, 11

NEWS / Former Jena, La., Corrections Officer Pleads Guilty to Criminal Sexual Activity

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department announced today that Joseph Taunton, 31, from Jonesville, La., a former corrections officer at the LaSalle Parish Detention Center in Jena, La., pleaded guilty in federal court for engaging in a sexual act with a federal detainee.

During his guilty plea, Taunton admitted that on Dec. 16, 2010, while working as an officer at the detention center, he engaged in a sexual act with a federal detainee under his supervision.

“Those who are sworn to protect our citizens will be held accountable when they violate the public trust and abuse the rights of individuals in their custody,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

“The defendant violated his oath; he crossed the line. This kind of behavior by prison employees can not and will not be tolerated, and we will continue to prosecute these types of cases,” said Stephanie Finley, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 28, 2011. Taunton faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.

Today’s plea resulted from the work of the Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspection General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Mudrick of the Western District of Louisiana and Trial Attorney Angie Cha of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.




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