HANOVER, Va. (WTVR)–Longtime Henrico County Deputy Jermaine A. Burton shot himself to death in his Hanover County home May 31, just hours after Henrico authorities launched an investigation into an allegation that he had sexual relations with a female inmate at Henrico County’s Jail East, which is in New Kent County.
He was 30-years-old.
The contact is alleged to have happened in the jail’s instruction area, where county teachers work with inmates watched over by guards, said Henrico Sheriff Mike Wade.
After another deputy heard of the alleged incident, “we immediately started an investigation. We found out there may be some validity to it. We contacted New Kent (investigators).”
Wade said they had no plans to contact Burton at that point in the investigation.
“ . . . apparently somebody made him aware,” Wade said. “Then I received a call from Hanover, that they were investigating a suicide in Hanover, and it was one of our deputies.”
The investigation will continue. At this point, Wade said, the alleged contact appears to be restricted to the one inmate, who has been moved to another facility.
Wade said the situation has hit the sheriff’s department hard. Burton got involved with the sheriff’s department when he was 16-years-old, doing data entry while attending Hermitage High School right down the street from the courts and jail complex.
He worked there “until he graduated from high school and he became an office assistant and worked here with us until he was old enough to be a deputy” at 21, Wade said, adding that Burton was “extremely well liked . . . We really watched him grow up. Very sad situation, to see this happen.”
Burton was married with young children. His funeral was Thursday.
Deputies having sex with inmates is a common problem across the country, even though sexual relations are against the law in all 50 states, even when it’s considered consensual.
Since jail and prison staff members have control over the inmates lives, it is impossible for inmates to consent. (Read about the problem here: http://www.freep.com/article/20130519/NEWS07/305190123/inmate-prison-sex-abuse-report)
Baltimore City’s Jail system was scandalized two months ago when a federal probe revealed four female guards were impregnated by the same gang leader inmate who ran a smuggling operation in the jail.
Thirteen female corrections officers there have been indicted. You can read about that case here: http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2013/04/29/inmate-charged-in-baltimore-prison-scandal-guard-he-impregnated-face-federal-judge/