A Shakopee corrections officer charged with sexually assaulting a female inmate has been fired alongside three colleagues who knew about the illegal conduct, sources say.
Jeffrey C. Anderson, 50, of Lakeville, is accused of hounding the prisoner for sexual favors, once shining a flashlight in her room and demanding that she show her breasts so he could fondle them.
He was charged with a felony sex crime in April, nearly two years after the alleged abuse first began.
Months of repeated groping led to an unlawful sexual liaison between him and the woman, according to court records.
Under Minnesota law, inmates cannot legally give consent, largely due to the uneven power dynamic between officers and offenders.
Three other officers were fired several weeks after being placed on paid leave for failing to report their knowledge of the sexual encounters and, in some cases, for retaliatory actions against complainants, according to two sources with knowledge of the investigation. As union members, they are entitled to a lengthy appeals process.
Department of Corrections (DOC) sources say the officers will not receive severance packages.
DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell declined to comment on his disciplinary decisions, citing restrictions under the state's Data Practices Act. But he previously told the Star Tribune that he would not tolerate such behavior among his rank and file.
"If [the allegations] prove true, it's highly disappointing," Schnell said last week. "There is no excuse, period, for engaging in any type of relationship with people that we supervise or with people in our custody. It's criminal."
The victim told investigators that on at least a half-dozen occasions, Anderson crept outside her room during night rounds and motioned that she should expose her breasts. Within days of her release, he began sending her graphic text messages, court records show.
When she returned to prison in November 2018, the woman reported being harassed by Anderson's colleagues, who wrote her up for "minute offenses" such as loitering in the hallway. She also alleged that officers once flicked rubber bands at her and slapped white tape over her mouth on the department-issued photo ID.
The state agency is now exploring the idea of implementing officer body cameras as an additional tool to protect staff and inmates from misconduct.
Anderson has two pending complaints against him, officials said. He has served as a corrections officer at Shakopee, the only state-run facility for women, since 2012.
Efforts to reach Anderson for comment were unsuccessful. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance May 20.