Sergeant on leave in Marysville jail sex investigation

MARYSVILLE — A Marysville jail sergeant is on administrative leave while detectives investigate allegations he engaged in custodial sexual misconduct with women inmates.

Sgt. Charles R. Nelson, 51, is the subject of internal and criminal investigations, according to court papers.

The allegations are spelled out in a search warrant affidavit filed by a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office detective. The city in May requested an outside agency investigate.

“Sgt. Charles Nelson, an employee of four years, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of both a criminal and an internal investigation; neither of which has been completed as of this date,” Marysville police Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux said in a written statement.

Nelson’s attorney, David Allen of Seattle, was unavailable for comment.

In May, a jail corrections officer brought the concerns of inmates to the attention of his superiors.

Many of the alleged incidents took place in the jail laundry room where inmate trustees often work alone. The room did not have a surveillance camera.

One woman told detectives she gave Nelson her cell phone number while she was an inmate in 2013 and he texted her later. She reported that after she was released, Nelson called her and they went to a hotel. They had sex and he gave her $100 afterward, she alleged. Detectives recovered a credit card receipt from the hotel in Nelson’s name and matching the time frame the woman described.

Another woman alleged that Nelson gave her his cell phone and asked her to take photos of her private parts while in the jail in 2013. He allegedly offered to give her money and pay her bail.

A third woman alleged to detectives that Nelson unzipped his pants in the laundry room and she touched him over his underwear in a sexual manner. Another time he allegedly touched her in a sexual manner over her clothes.

She told the detective the touching occurred earlier this year and was consensual, but he should be reprimanded.

Under state law, the inmate’s consent is not a defense to second-degree custodial misconduct. That’s due, in part, because the perpetrator may have the ability to influence the conditions of the person’s incarceration.

In Nelson’s case, investigators monitored surveillance footage near the entrance of the laundry room. The camera showed Nelson and the third woman were alone in the room “at least 50 times” for spans of mere seconds to a couple of minutes.

Nelson’s co-workers expressed concerns about Nelson often being in the laundry room alone with the third woman. Two corrections officers said there would be no reason to go into the laundry room with an inmate.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

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