No charges will be filed against two former Oconee County jailers who allegedly engaged in conversations that were "sexual in nature" with a female inmate and sent the woman Facebook "friend" requests while she was housed at the jail last month.
Chief Deputy Lee Weems says Dewayne Powers, 34, of Covington, was terminated and Andrea Rogers, 40, of Hull, resigned on Aug. 3. Both had been employed by the since 2010; Rogers came on board in August and Powers was hired in November of that year.
The Sheriff's Office posted about disciplinary actions on its Facebook page Monday.
Powers sent a text message with his phone number to the woman's cell phone, which, at the time, was still in the custody of the jail, Weems said. Both Powers and Rogers sent the woman requests to be "friends" on Facebook, he said.
Weems described the contact as "highly inappropriate," but said "there was no evidence to suggest that anything physical had ever taken place," Weems stated. "Every party involved denies that there was physical contact."
The 23-year-old woman was booked into the jail on June 28 and released on bond on July 23 and the conversations reportedly took place on multiple occasions during that time, Weems said. As she was in the process of bonding out of jail, the alleged conversations between the woman and the jailers came to light when the woman's cell mate's boyfriend contacted law enforcement about something his girlfriend overheard, Weems explained. An internal investigation began.
The deputies were off duty that day, he said, but their access to the jail was immediately cut off. The following morning, they were interviewed separately and suspended with pay. They were also notified of Sheriff Scott Berry's intent to seek disciplinary action and a hearing was scheduled for Aug. 2, he explained.
On that day, after evidence and testimony were presented, Rogers submitted his resignation and Powers was fired, Weems said.
"Rogers' behavior wasn't to the same level as [Powers'] from the evidence that we've seen," he noted.
Powers had the option to appeal the termination within the 10 days that followed, but none was filed, he said.
Weems said it's possible a deputy might be "friends" on Facebook with someone who later is charged with a crime, but a jailer who befriends an inmate "takes it to a whole new level."
"We can't have the inmates feeling like they're targeted," he said.