Corrections deputy pleads not guilty to sex crime

EVERETT — A Snohomish County corrections deputy made his first court appearance Wednesday since being charged with a felony sex crime.

Sean Wright pleaded not guilty to first-degree sexual misconduct. Wright, 34, is accused of using his job to coerce female inmates into having sex with him. Prosecutors also allege that Wright plied the inmates with gifts, including cookies, in exchange for watching them shower and change their clothes.

It is a felony under any circumstances for corrections officers to engage in sexual activity with inmates.

Wright started at the jail in September 2010. He remains on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said Wednesday.

Wright’s trial is scheduled for Feb. 21. His attorney Mark Mestel of Everett said that date likely is just a placeholder.

The claims about jailhouse sex came to light after detectives from the Kent Police Department shared concerns about the attention that a Snohomish County corrections deputy had paid toward an inmate the detectives had interviewed, deputy prosecutor Andrew Alsdorf wrote.

When asked for an explanation, the woman said the deputy was trying to arrange to meet her for sex after she got out of jail. A sheriff’s detective was assigned to investigate.

The woman told detectives she had “at least two sexual encounters” and numerous sexual conversations with the corrections deputy, court papers said.

Investigators also were told about another woman who reportedly talked about sexual activity with Wright. She initially denied that anything happened. A week later, she called detectives and said that Wright had coerced her into engaging in a sex act.

“The defendant said that (the woman) needed to trust him, and that he could lose his job and get in ‘big trouble’ if anyone found out,” Alsdorf wrote.

The woman also said that Wright had exposed himself. She told detectives other inmates witnessed some of the behavior. Investigators found other inmates who corroborated some of what the woman reported, court papers showed.

Wright’s co-workers also reported concerns.

They said he was sometimes inexplicably missing from his post, seemed unusually interested in certain inmates’ needs, and that female inmates “appeared uncomfortable whenever they learned that the defendant was scheduled to work” swing shift, Alsdorf wrote.

One corrections deputy reported concerns about Wright to the jail’s chain of command. He said Wright had gone to inmates’ cells to “say good night,” behavior considered “highly unusual,” the prosecutor wrote.

A former corrections deputy, also charged with first-degree custodial sexual misconduct, is set to go to trial next week.

Abner Canda, 59, is accused of trading homemade cookies for sexual favors from a 22-year-old inmate.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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