Former prison electrician admits abuse of prisoner


POSTED: Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A former federal detention center electrician pleaded guilty yesterday to sexually abusing an inmate last year.


;[Preview] Worker Pleads Guilty To Sexually Assaulting Female Inmate

It turns out the female inmate should not have been in the detention center at all.


Watch ]





  An appeals court later determined the woman wasn't supposed to be behind bars.


Markell Milsap, 36, an electrician for 41/2 years until he left the job after the incident, admitted he had sex with the inmate in a storage room at the facility Sept. 28 last year.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Loretta Sheehan told U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright that Milsap forced the inmate against a wall with his forearm, forced down her pants and had sex with the prisoner.

Seabright scheduled sentencing for March 9 and allowed Milsap to remain free on a $25,000 signature bond.

But he set aside the afternoon of the sentencing to determine whether Milsap forced the woman to have sex, which would lead to a harsher sentence. Sheehan said Milsap's lawyer, Birney Bervar, has indicated he will argue that no force was used.

Sheehan told the judge that Milsap, who was also a supervisor, wanted the inmate to show him a faulty buffer that had burned the prisoner earlier. But once they got into the storage room, he sexually abused her, Sheehan said.

The woman had earlier served a prison term for bank robbery and was then placed on supervisory release. But U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor revoked the release last year after the inmate tested positive for cocaine in a urine test.

The woman contended she was clean, that the test was flawed and it should not have been admitted against her because the urine sample had been diluted. But Gillmor sent her back to prison.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Gillmor's ruling earlier this year and ordered the woman's “;immediate release.”; But by that time, the woman had already been sexually abused.

Eric Seitz, the woman's civil attorney, said the woman, a mother, was turning her life around when she was “;devastated”; by what he called a rape. She is now working and has stayed out of trouble, Seitz said.

He said the woman has filed a claim for $750,000 against the Bureau of Prisons for failing to provide a safe environment for his client at the detention center.

Seitz said there have been previous incidents of sexual abuse of female inmates by prison workers that have been settled.

“;They're obligated to put in cameras, put in a system so that male employees are not allowed to be in isolated places with women,”; he said.

Federal detention center officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.