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Corrections officer fired after alleged rape of woman

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    Watkins

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    JAIL26p A view of a single cell inside the booking area of the Lucas County Jail in downtown Toledo. The booking area of the jail, which opened in 1977 and was renovated in 1995, was originally designed to hold 45 to 50 people. Today, they regularly exceed that number, including Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, when the booking area was housing more than 80 people. Lt. Jim Williams says flooding, storage and an increase of human traffic are all growing concerns for the jail. "Our officers do the best they can with what they have to work with," he said, adding that a new space was sorely needed. "It just doesn't function for us anymore." THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH

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Watkins

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A corrections officer at the Lucas County jail who also coached high school basketball was fired this week after he allegedly sexually assaulted a young woman he had driven home from the jail.

Myron Watkins, 46, of Holland was terminated by Sheriff John Tharp for violating six departmental rules, including dishonesty and conduct unbecoming an officer, for the alleged rape, which is under investigation by Toledo police.

No criminal charges have been filed against Mr. Watkins, who was hired as a corrections officer in February, 2012, and was paid $32,700 a year.

Mr. Watkins also worked as an assistant boys basketball coach at Bowsher High School the past two seasons, and coached at St. Francis de Sales and Rogers high schools before that.

While the alleged rape occurred two weeks ago, a disciplinary hearing was held Monday. The sheriff fired Mr. Watkins the same day. The swift discipline was “because of the seriousness of the charges,” the sheriff said Wednesday.

“That’s the bottom line. That can’t be tolerated,” he said. “I believe there’s enough evidence for us to do what we did, to fire him. I feel comfortable that that’s the right thing to do.”

An internal affairs report on the incident shows the 20-year-old victim told police she was making a phone call from the jail’s booking area to find a ride home on the morning of July 29 when a corrections officer whose name she did not know said he would give her a ride after he got off work about 6:45 a.m.

Rob Sarahman, an investigator with the sheriff’s internal-affairs unit, said Mr. Watkins can be seen on video in the booking area writing a note and giving it to the woman. She said the note advised her to meet him at a downtown bus stop.

The woman said the officer picked her up there but, rather than take her home, he drove her to a Waverly Avenue house where he forced her to perform oral sex on him.

According to internal affairs records, Mr. Watkins was identified and interviewed by Toledo police later the same day. He initially told police he’d gone straight home, but changed his story several times before admitting to the sex act, saying it was consensual.

Internal affairs records state the victim told sheriff’s investigators that the corrections officer told her “he didn’t want to cause her any problems, and also not to tell anyone because he could lose his job.”

Sheriff Tharp said the men and women he employs take an oath to protect the public, are held to a higher standard, and should conduct themselves accordingly. Members of the public should be able to trust them, he said.

“To me, that’s horrible. That’s just something that can’t be condoned or tolerated,” Sheriff Tharp said. “We owe the community much more than that.”

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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