Updated 8:50 a.m. April 13
A 50-year-old Lakeville man has been charged with a felony sex crime for allegedly having sexual contact with an inmate in the women’s prison in Shakopee that began while he was working as a corrections officer in the prison.
Jeffrey Clair Anderson, who had been a correctional officer at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Shakopee since 2012, faces a maximum 10 years imprisonment and a $20,000 fine if convicted.
According to the charging documents:
On Jan. 9, Shakopee police were notified of alleged criminal sexual conduct at the women’s prison by a state corrections department special investigator. The report said a corrections employee had sexual contact with a prisoner and the two went on to have a sexual relationship after the inmate was released from prison.
The victim told a detective that in June or July of 2017, Anderson began talking and flirting with her and frequently visiting her living area, prompting other inmates to notice and comment on it. She said four to six times, he visited her room during night rounds and would stop outside her door and ask or make hand motions signaling that she should lift her shirt to expose her breasts.
She said the first sexual contact happened in October or November 2017, when she was awakened by Anderson when he shined his flashlight inside her cell. She came to the door and he told her to lift her shirt, then reached inside and touched her breasts.
Another time before her release in November 2017, Anderson walked the victim to her room alone one night, and in the courtyard area, allegedly put his hand on her vagina, over her clothing, and told her guards are in control and “You don’t say no to guards.”
A former roommate of the victim said after the woman was released from prison, she provided Anderson with the woman’s contact information in Florida, and the two engaged in a sexual relationship after she was released, with Anderson visiting her in Florida.
According to the criminal complaint, Anderson sent the woman sexually explicit text messages and photos/videos as early as December 2017, shortly after her release.
In November 2018, the woman ended up back in the Shakopee prison, where Anderson still worked, and she reported being harassed by other officers, who wrote her up for minor offenses such as loitering in the hall. She said officers once flicked rubber bands at her and put white tape over the mouth on her photo ID, which she felt was retaliation for her reporting her relationship with Anderson.
Another inmate who lived in the cell next to the victim said after the woman returned to prison in 2018, she overheard Anderson come to the woman’s cell to talk about their relationship, and say the special investigations office was going to be talking to her and she should “Deny it, deny it, deny it.”
The corrections department has strict policies governing employee conduct, requiring disclosure of any personal contact with inmates either during or after their incarceration and banning communication with offenders after their release without prior authorization. Even if a staffer has inadvertent communication with an ex-offender, such as running into them in a grocery store, they are to immediately report the contact.
Anderson did not report any contact with the victim.
On Jan. 9, a detective took a statement from Anderson, who said he knew of the woman and that she was in Florida after her release, but denied having any communication or relationship with her.
The charge alleges that in October to November 2017, while a corrections employee, he engaged in sexual contact with a prisoner, noting that “Consent by the complainant is not a defense.”
State corrections spokeswoman Sarah Fitzgerald said Anderson is on paid administrative leave during the investigation, and “If these allegations prove true, it is highly disappointing, contrary to our policies and Minnesota law, and is unacceptable.”
Asked about the allegations that other guards retaliated against the woman for reporting the relationship, Fitzgerald said, “It’s an internal investigation and the others are on administrative leave as well.”
Anderson has been charged with a felony but was not arrested and jailed. According to Shakopee Police Capt. Craig Robson, he was "charged by complaint" and his first appearance is scheduled for May 20.