Sunday, February 04, 2007

Former Prison Guard Guilty Of Female Inmate Rape

CONCORD, N.H. - A former corrections officer was convicted Friday of raping a female inmate under his supervision at a prison halfway house.
A Merrimack County Superior Court jury found Douglas Tower, 62, guilty of all charges against him: two counts of rape and four counts of felonious sexual assault. The jury began deliberating on Wednesday.
The woman, now 23, testified the former corrections sergeant assaulted her in his office at the Shea Farm halfway house two years ago and in a Corrections Department van. She said she felt she had no choice but to submit.
“I had nobody to call, I didn’t have any friends. I didn’t have anybody like that to call,” she said. “There are levels of trust. I didn’t trust anybody to tell them anything like that.”

Tower testified that he kissed and fondled the woman in the van after she made advances to him, but did not rape her.
He denied that he ever forced the woman to perform oral sex on him or assaulted her in his office at the Shea Farm halfway house, as she testified.
His actions were stupid, Tower said, but it wasn’t rape.
“I had let so many people down,” he said. “Doing something that stupid, it devastated my entire life and everybody around me.”
But prosecutor Kirsten Wilson told the jury Tower lied to the police, then changed his story just before he was scheduled to take a polygraph test. He also approved a special visit for the woman the same day they were together in the van, a request he did not have the authority to grant. The state asserts that Tower coerced the woman because he had the power to grant favors and send her back to prison if she refused.
He faces separate trials on sexual assault charges involving a dozen other women.
State Corrections Commissioner William Wrenn said the department will go after employees who take advantage of their authority over inmates.
“We are entrusted with the custody and safekeeping of all offenders who are incarcerated in our facilities,” Wrenn said after the verdict. “We take that responsibility seriously. The employees of the Department of Corrections must uphold the laws of the state and we will continue to have a zero tolerance approach to those who violate that trust.”
Tower was the highest-ranking officer assigned full-time to Shea Farm halfway house, where he worked at night and once was voted officer of the year. He ruled on low-level disciplinary reports, bedroom assignments and inmate visit requests, and had authority over other officers.