I thought yesterday’s blog was just an isolated incident of incarceration oddities … until I read the story that sparked the subject of today’s blog.
Seems that there were all kinds of shenanigans (appropriate choice of words for St. Patrick’s Day) going on in the Montague County Jail in Montague, TX. To set the stage, Montague is a small farming community of a few hundred citizens near the Texas/Oklahoma border.
Where to begin … where to begin? Let’s start here: Seems that Bill Keating, 61, was the sheriff during this questionable time period, dating all the way back to 2006. Last year, there began to be some rumors (dismissed at the time as mere gossip) of an affair between a female jailer and male inmate.
Then last month, out of the blue came a 106-count indictment against Sheriff Keating and many others, accusing them of conducting prison business in much the same way that a college frat house would. For starters, the sheriff was charged with oppression and having inappropriate contact with female inmates. Nine other guards – seven women and two men – are charged with various sex and drug crimes, and four inmates are also among the grand total of 17 people being charged.
How was all this discovered, you may ask? A Montague official received a handwritten letter on notebook paper from inmate Luke Bolton, who claimed he was the victim of one of the female guards. “I’m just reaching out for help to show (the jailer) is a person who abused her power. She broke the law by having sex with me in cell #16 while I was an inmate. Please help me. I am telling the truth. Everybody knows I am,” wrote Bolton, who also included the message that he’d be willing to submit to a polygraph.
The subsequent investigation turned up the illicit chicanery.
New Sheriff Paul Cunningham has the task of cleaning up the mess Keating created, and he’s apparently wasted no time. He’s moved the 60-plus inmates to another facility while his own undergoes a remodel. “It literally scared me,not for myself but for the employees,” Cunningham said of his first visit to the jail. “How somebody kept from being killed is beyond me.”
Oh, and by the way, Sheriff Keating has already entered a guilty plea to a separate charge of sexual assault that’s unrelated to this case. He told a woman she would go to jail on drug charges unless she had sex with him. As a result, he now faces up to 10 years on the other side of the cell bars.
How did it get so bad that the inmates literally began running the asylum? That’s the big question, and I’m sure it will all come out in the trial.