A 22-year-old Muskogee County Jail employee was dismissed in January after the sheriff's office became aware of allegations of an improper sexual relationship between the jailer and an inmate.
The Muskogee County Sheriff's Office asked the OSBI to take over an investigation into allegations that Harold Eugene Shinn III, 22, had a sexual encounter with a female inmate in June 2015.
According to reports, Shinn admitted to having sex with the woman, and the details of his alleged confession matched statements the woman gave investigators about the alleged incident.
The former jailer was arrested last week outside his apartment and booked into the Muskogee County Jail on a complaint of second degree rape. He has since been released on $35,000 bond. A preliminary hearing conference is set for April 18.
Reports give few details about the case, but a second degree rape charge seems to indicate that the sex between the jailer and inmate was consensual and not forced or accomplished through the threat of violence. However, under Oklahoma law, no one in custody or under the supervision of a state, county, or municipal agency has the legal capacity to consent to sex with a person employed or contracted by that agency.
This law is intended to prevent abuse of authority by the custodial agency, including coercion of sex in exchange for favors, preferential treatment, or out of fear of retaliation. But even if these elements are not present, sex between the custodian and the ward (or the teacher and the student, or the jailer and the inmate) is strictly prohibited by law:
Rape is an act of sexual intercourse . . .
7. Where the victim is under the legal custody or supervision of a state agency, a federal agency, a county, a municipality or a political subdivision and engages in sexual intercourse with a state, federal, county, municipal or political subdivision employee or an employee of a contractor of the state, the federal government, a county, a municipality or a political subdivision that exercises authority over the victim;
8. Where the victim is at least sixteen (16) years of age and is less than twenty (20) years of age and is a student, or under the legal custody or supervision of any public or private elementary or secondary school, junior high or high school, or public vocational school, and engages in sexual intercourse with a person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older and is an employee of the same school system; or
9. Where the victim is nineteen (19) years of age or younger and is in the legal custody of a state agency, federal agency or tribal court and engages in sexual intercourse with a foster parent or foster parent applicant. ( 21 O.S. § 1111)
Although second degree rape is a lesser offense than rape in the first degree, the penalties are nonetheless quite severe. Second degree rape is a felony sex crime punishable by one to 15 years in prison. Additionally, like first degree rape, it is a Level 3 sex offense. This means that conviction requires lifetime sex offender registration.
If you are questioned about a sexual relationship with a person who may not have been able to provide legal consent through age or custodial status, it is imperative that you decline to speak with police, DHS workers, or anyone else about your case. Instead, contact a lawyer as quickly as possible. Call (405) 778-4800 for a free consultation with an attorney who can help.