Jailer accused of sexually assaulting inmate

By: Stephanie Baker Email
By: Stephanie Baker Email

February 14, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Bond has been set at $11,100 for a Richmond County deputy jailer who has been behind bars since yesterday.

42-year-old Joseph Kennedy Smalls was arrested last night, accused of sexually assaulting a male inmate at the Charles Webster Detention Center.

Investigators say the inmate reported the alleged abuse on February 5, and that's when Sheriff Ronnie Strength ordered the investigation that led to the arrest.

"We didn't see anything to indicate he was capable of any act similar to this," said Maj. Ken Autry. "We were of course notified by the inmate's allegations."

The incident report shows Smalls is accused of inappropriately touching the inmate. Maj. Autry adds the inmate also says smalls kissed him against his will.

"I'll simply say it was inappropriate behavior," Maj. Autry said.

The jail is divided up into pods, consisting of cells, a common area, and a control center. Autry says the inappropriate behavior happened somewhere in the inmate's pod.

It was Smalls' job to police the pod and keep inmates in control, but no longer.

In an earlier interview, Sheriff Ronnie Strength told News 12 the department does not tolerate illegal behavior from anybody.

"Law enforcement do things wrong too...and they have to be reckoned with just like everybody else. We're no different," he said.

"The act the deputy committed was a criminal act, so of course we don't condone it, and that's why he was arrested yesterday afternoon," Maj. Autry said.

Now the man who used to supervise inmates has become one himself.

The Internal Affairs office tells us Smalls had no complaints in his months with Richmond County. They also say Smalls used to work for the Regional Youth Detention Center in South Carolina.

We have requested his personnel file, which could have more details. The law says the county has to respond by Monday afternoon.

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