Jail supervisor under investigation by TBI
Posted By Sparta Live | September 21, 2004 12:00 am
Kim Swindell Wood
District Attorney Bill Gibson has confirmed an investigation has been initiated against Don Wilson, chief of correction at White County Jail.
“I am aware of the fact that there is an investigation,” said Gibson. “We’re looking into certain allegations, but I can’t say what they are. We’re going to gather all the information and then take whatever steps are appropriate.”
Gibson said he was not at liberty to divulge any details of the investigation. However, The Expositor has been told by an unnamed source the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has been questioning employees of White County Sheriff Department, which includes the correction department for the jail.
Sheriff James O’Conner was contacted by The Expositor about the investigation and asked if he had any plans to suspend Wilson.
“I don’t know at this time,” said O’Conner. “Bob Krofssik [T.B.I.] is handling that part of it. He hasn’t given me anything yet on that part, as far as the investigation on Don.”
The Expositor told O’Conner they had obtained information about alleged sexual misconduct pertaining to Wilson and female inmates, as well as female correction officers. O’Conner said he was not aware of any inappropriate behavior with female correction officers. However, he then said “one or two had made certain allegations.”
“I go by discomfort,” said O’Conner. “I don’t know what it takes to make someone – especially females – to feel uncomfortable. Most of the allegations made on Don were that he couldn’t talk to you and look at you. And, the females – the biggest allegation – he couldn’t take his eyes off their breasts. I don’t know. Those are the only allegations I’m familiar with. I don’t know what’s true and what’s not.”
The Expositor asked O’Conner if he had talked with Wilson about the allegations, and he said “yes.”
“All he tells me is he’d never do anything to hurt the integrity of the department,” said O’Conner.
The Expositor asked O’Conner if he had knowledge of an investigation that had allegedly been initiated by three deputies about the sexual allegations against Wilson. He said “yes,” but said he could not elaborate on the details.
“The jailers themselves – some of them – I know they’ve seen more than what they relay,” said O’Conner. “If they weren’t so scared of losing their job – which they won’t lose their job.”
O’Conner said he felt some of the employees were afraid to talk to him about any alleged problems, because they had apparently been told he and Wilson were “big buddies.”
“That doesn’t matter to me,” O’Conner said.
After speaking with O’Conner, The Expositor interviewed Wilson. He was asked if he knew he was under investigation by the T.B.I.
“I don’t know what the allegations are,” said Wilson, “so I really can’t comment on it right now.”
Wilson said the jail has 76 cameras that cover all areas of the facility. He said “it would be very difficult” to do anything that would be considered sexual misconduct.
However, The Expositor told Wilson they had been told by unnamed sources, who are familiar with the layout of the jail, there were several cameras that could be “avoided.”
Wilson then offered to take this reporter in his office or into the tower area where she could view the camera setup.
He said inmates could be retaliatory. Wilson said he is the one who has to say “no” to them when they have to be denied certain privileges.
In 2001, Wilson was employed by Smithville Police Department as an investigator when Penny Reagan filed a civil lawsuit against Wilson, the City of Smithville, Police Chief Richard Jennings and Sgt. Steven Leffew. Reagan accused Wilson of inappropriate behavior during a police investigation about a domestic assault incident involving Reagan and her husband.
Wilson was officially dismissed from the Smithville Police Department for “misconduct.” However, Reagan later dropped the lawsuit.
Both Wilson and O’Conner were informed by The Expositor that taped interviews had been conducted with individuals who accused Wilson of inappropriate behavior. In an effort to cooperate, The Expositor provided copies of these tapes to the T.B.I.