A former Shakopee prison guard charged with having sexual contact with an inmate was previously suspended twice for inappropriate behavior.
Jeffrey Clair Anderson, 50, is charged with a felony sex crime for allegedly having sexual contact with an inmate in the women’s prison in Shakopee, beginning while he was working as a corrections officer in the prison.
Last month, the Star Tribune reported that Anderson and three other officers, who were allegedly aware of the illegal behavior, were fired from their positions at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Shakopee.
Anderson had been a correctional officer at the Shakopee prison since 2012, and was disciplined in March 2015 and September 2017, according to personnel records obtained under an open records request. But he has been employed by the state corrections department since 2005, resigned a position in 2010 and was reinstated in 2012, his personnel records indicate.
In 2015, Anderson was suspended without pay for five days after an investigation substantiated that he violated the corrections department’s anti-discrimination and sexual harassment policy, employees’ personal code of conduct and his job description, according to the records.
“Specifically, this investigation substantiated you repeatedly made inappropriate sexual comments to a co-worker,” Warden Tracey Beltz wrote in a memo to Anderson. “This was done in the presence of staff.”
Then in 2017, he was suspended without pay for seven days for violating the department’s discrimination-free workplace policy.
“Specifically, the investigation substantiated you stored and electronically displayed photographs of yourself and co-workers that were inappropriate, unwelcomed, offensive and demeaning,” Warden Beltz wrote.
The corrections department has not yet responded to a request for comment on Anderson’s past suspensions.
According to the charging documents, Shakopee police were notified on Jan. 9 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 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 and 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.
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.
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.
Anderson has denied to a detective that he had any communication or relationship with the woman.
State corrections spokeswoman Sarah Fitzgerald has said, “If these allegations prove true, it is highly disappointing, contrary to our policies and Minnesota law, and is unacceptable.”
Anderson faces a maximum 10 years imprisonment and a $20,000 fine if convicted. At his first court appearance on May 20, there were no conditions set for his release, according to the Scott County Attorney’s Office.