Cass County Jail nurse under investigation for sexually assaulting inmate, bringing in contraband
FARGO - A former jail nurse is being investigated by the Cass County Sheriff's Department after a search warrant indicated she is accused of sexually abusing a male inmate at the Cass County Jail and smuggling in contraband to that inmate.
FARGO – A former jail nurse is being investigated by the Cass County Sheriff’s Department after a search warrant indicated she is accused of sexually abusing a male inmate at the Cass County Jail and smuggling in contraband to that inmate.
According to the search warrant filed in Cass County District Court, the investigation was sparked when another inmate, not the victim, left a note in the jail programs room on May 29 saying inmates cleaning the cells had discovered a cellphone hidden inside a deodorant dispenser.
The inmate later told a Cass County investigator that a nurse brought in the cellphone and a charger, plus chewing tobacco and beef jerky, for the victim.
Officials searched the jail for the contraband and nothing was discovered, said Jail Administrator Lt. Andrew Frobig.
Frobig said within a day, other inmates began echoing similar stories, including details about an inappropriate personal relationship between a nurse and an inmate.
The next day, another inmate approached a jailer and said a cellphone was hidden in one of the cells and the charger was hidden in a push broom in a cleaning closet, and that the nurse who brought the contraband in for another inmate had sexual intercourse with him.
Cass County sheriff’s officials said they didn’t believe the stories at first.
“Initially, we thought it just wasn’t happening,” said Frobig, especially given that subsequent searches turned up nothing. He said jailers often receive information from inmates that turns out to be unsubstantiated.
Cass County Sheriff’s Capt. Mitch Burris said was surprised, not only because there’s never been a cellphone smuggled into the jail in recent memory, but a jail worker has never before been accused of sexually abusing an inmate.
“It’s difficult. Everyone gets training seminars,” he said. “I don’t think anyone gets hired at Cass County who were not upstanding citizens.”
After two more days of searching, Frobig said, the tobacco was discovered in a deodorant dispenser in one of the cells, and the victim was interviewed June 2.
The victim told Cass County investigators the nurse kissed him the first time they were alone in the nursing office, then gave him a TB shot to justify his visit to her.
She told him to make visits to her through the corrections officers because she thought the newer ones would be less likely to log them, he said.
He had at first tried to ignore her sexual advances, but when he did, she “looked disappointed and made a comment about (him) hurting her self-esteem,” the inmate told investigators.
Frobig said because a week had elapsed between when the inmate reported being assaulted and the physical contact, no rape kit was performed on the man.
The sealed search warrant, which was obtained by The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, states that Cass County investigators recovered a card in the inmate’s possession signed, “Love you! Anna,” the pseudonym under which he said the nurse bought him the cellphone and wrote notes to him.
The handwriting on the card and the nurse’s handwriting appeared to match, the search warrant said.
Investigators also recovered a receipt for a card in the nurse’s purse, purchased four days before the victim received his card.
Burris said video evidence and the timeline established by corrections officers logging the inmate’s visit to the nurse also substantiate the inmate’s claims.
Investigators also took photographs of an identifying mark on a part of the nurse’s anatomy that the inmate described to them, according to the search warrant.
The search warrant affidavit states the nurse admitted in an interview only to giving the victim her home phone number, written on the underside of his inhaler.
She allegedly said it was a poor decision, but thought he could call her on release, the warrant said.
Burris said the nurse has since indicated she will not cooperate with investigators.
He said potential charges against the nurse include sexual abuse of a ward and delivery of a wireless communications device to an inmate, both Class C felonies, and false information to law enforcement and delivery of tobacco to an inmate, both misdemeanors.
“I don’t think in this society, we don’t typically think of a male as our victim, and I think in this case he’s a victim,” Burris said.
“He’s essentially no different than a woman who was raped by a male,” said Cass County Detective Joe Gress, who has been assigned full time to investigate alleged criminal behavior occurring at the jail.
The Forum did not name the nurse because she has not yet been charged.
Because of the case, sheriff’s department officials are re-evaluating security procedures at the jail, Burris said. They are considering implementing a search-upon-entry policy for all people coming into the jail, including staff members, he said.
The nurse, who was a contract employee with Fargo-Cass Public Health, was terminated there June 5 for giving her phone number to an inmate, a violation of city employee policy, said a public health spokeswoman.
The nurse, who had worked at the jail for six years and had no criminal record, underwent a criminal background and professional license check before being hired, the public health spokeswoman said.