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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ex-guard guilty in prison sex case

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

A former Colorado prison guard has pleaded guilty to a felony charge after two Hawai'i women alleged he threatened them for sex.

Russell E. Rollison, 32, is facing a sentence of up to three years in prison after pleading guilty March 28 to menacing with a real or simulated weapon, according to Morgan County District Court records. He worked at the Brush Correctional Facility in northeastern Colorado where the Hawai'i inmates were held, and was originally charged with two counts of felony sexual conduct in a penal institution.

Myles Breiner, a Honolulu lawyer representing the two women, ages 32 and 36, criticized the plea agreement that allowed Rollison to avoid conviction as a sex offender. "I think that's wrong, and it sends a terribly wrong message to everyone involved. It doesn't protect women, and it doesn't compel the authorities running the penal system in Colorado to clean up their act," Breiner said.

Prosecutors in Colorado did not respond to requests for comment.

The incident was alleged to have occurred Jan. 8, 2005, in the prison law library. The inmates said Rollison pushed one of the women against a wall and threatened to write up both inmates for misconduct if they did not perform a sex act for him.

Breiner said one of the inmates saved semen from the encounter that was turned over to investigators with the Colorado Department of Corrections. The inmates were returned to Hawai'i and one of the women has since been paroled.

Brush prison officials have said the sex was consensual and that the inmates were using the incident to get transferred back to Hawai'i and as the basis for a lawsuit. Colorado Department of Corrections investigators were unable to substantiate the allegations, but even consensual sex between a corrections officer and an inmate is a felony in that state.

Rollison, a former Colorado police officer, is scheduled for sentencing June 14.

Breiner said he intends to sue Rollison, Hawai'i, Colorado and prison owner GRW Corp. on behalf of the two inmates. Six other female prisoners from Colorado and Wyoming accused staff at Brush of sexual misconduct early last year.

Another former Brush guard, Fredrick Woller, 33, pleaded guilty in February to misdemeanor harassment of a Wyoming inmate and was fined $200, according to court records. Brush Warden Rick Soares resigned and pleaded guilty in August to a misdemeanor false reporting charge in connection with Woller's case. He received a one-year deferred judgment, which means his record will be cleared if he complies with court orders.

Hawai'i inmates were moved in September from the Colorado prison to the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., which is operated by Corrections Corp. of America.

There have been problems in Kentucky, however.

Last week the Kentucky State Police announced that a former corrections officer at Otter Creek was charged with sex abuse after he allegedly gave food and candy to a Kentucky inmate in exchange for sexual favors. The guard was fired and Kentucky prison officials notified Hawai'i officials of the case.

In commenting on allegations of sexual misconduct by a guard at the Otter Creek Correctional Center for women, Shari Kimoto, administrator of Hawai'i Department of Public Safety's branch on the Mainland, said: "We are satisfied with the way they handled (the allegation) through immediate notification, internal investigation and then immediate termination."

The state pays about $40 million a year to hold about 1,850 prison inmates on the Mainland because there is not enough room for them in Hawai'i correctional facilities.

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com.

Correction: Shari Kimoto's full comment was not reflected in a previous version of this story.