Charging documents: Former correctional officer had sex with inmate

Prosecutors charged a former jail employee for having a sexual relationship with an inmate.

Zachariah B. Johnson, 28, of North Vernon, is charged with three counts of sexual misconduct, a Level 5 felony, official misconduct, a Level 6 felony, and trafficking with an inmate, a misdemeanor. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office also fired Johnson, who had been with the agency for two years.

An inmate reported last week through her attorney she and Johnson had been having a sexual relationship, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Monday in Johnson County Superior Court 2.

The inmate said she and Johnson started flirting, then passing notes back and forth. One evening, prior to lockdown, Johnson took her from her jail cell to an interview room, where the two of them sat and talked for an extended period of time. Several other jail deputies came into the interview room, and Johnson told them he was conducting a disciplinary interview with the inmate, according to court documents.

At one point, Johnson showed her a photo of his penis on his cell phone, which the inmate said another inmate had also seen, court documents show.

During the first week of October, at about 2 a.m., Johnson, again, took the inmate from her cell to the same interview room. He began kissing her and they had sex, according to court documents.

The next day, the inmate passed Johnson a note that said she was concerned she would get pregnant, as she was not on birth control and Johnson did not use any type of protection. She asked Johnson to bring her a Plan B pill so that she wouldn’t get pregnant, and he did, court documents show.

On at least two other occasions between October and November, Johnson took her to the same interview room where the two had sex, according to court documents.

The inmate gave investigators typed notes Johnson had passed to her, court documents show.

Johnson County Sheriff Duane Burgess learned about the allegations early Thursday and launched a criminal and internal investigation. Members of the sheriff’s office investigations division spoke with the female inmate and her attorney. After investigators obtained a statement from the inmate, Burgess spoke with Morgan County Sheriff Richard Myers and requested two of his detectives handle the investigation, according to a sheriff’s office news release.

“I appreciate Sheriff Burgess handling this investigation in such a prompt manner, and for bringing in an out-of-county agency to conduct it. One thing I wanted to ensure was transparency, regardless of how the investigation turned out,” Prosecutor Joe Villanueva said in a separate news release. “At this point, my office will retain the case for prosecution, and we look forward to presenting our evidence in court in the future.”

Morgan County detectives were briefed on the allegations and began their investigation. They interviewed Johnson about 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

During the interview, Johnson said he moved to the night shift about two months ago. He told investigators he and the inmate had been flirting for quite some time, then began passing notes to one another, which became sexual in nature, according to court documents.

Johnson admitted to taking the inmate to the interview room, and that the encounters eventually became sexual and the two of them began a sexual relationship, court documents show.

Johnson also confirmed that he did, in fact, get the Plan B pill and pass it to the inmate using a jail medication cup, according to court documents.