Correctional officer fired after sexual contact with inmate
Fired was John K. Housinga, 27, Janesville.
“The internal investigation showed an inappropriate relationship between the correctional officer and the female inmate,” Spoden said.
Housinga had worked as a county corrections officer since September, making $15.89 an hour with a 1 percent bump because he worked second shift at the Rock County Jail, the sheriff said.
Cmdr. Tom Gehl, who supervises the jail, noted that any sexual contact with an inmate—regardless of consent—is against the law.
For that reason, Spoden asked the Janesville Police Department to investigate the matter as a possible crime.
The matter came to light July 22, when, he said, “we received information on inappropriate behavior from another female inmate.”
Janesville police have forwarded their reports to Rock County District Attorney David O’Leary for review and the possible criminal charges. The Janesville Gazette was unable to reach O’Leary on Tuesday afternoon to check the status of the criminal investigation.
Citing the criminal investigation, Spoden declined to comment further on the nature of the “inappropriate sexual contact.”
The inmate involved is a 25-year-old woman serving an 18-month sentence on revocation of probation for battery, resisting, theft, bail-jumping and possessing narcotics.
The inmate received no disciplinary repercussions at the jail, but she was transferred to another county’s jail “just to assure there isn’t any retribution,” Spoden said. “Not that I expect that from our staff.
“It is typical to move an inmate if there is an issue involving the inmate and an officer.”
The sheriff added:
“We determined through statements given to us by our officer as well as other statements from people involved that there was a serious violation of sheriff’s office policy and procedure.”
To fire an employee on probation, the sheriff’s office must have a “certain amount of just cause,” the sheriff said. “We view the probationary period as part of the hiring process.
“If, during the one-year period, we believe they can’t perform as correctional officers or we have concerns about their conduct or ability to perform to be a correctional officer at the sheriff’s office, we can release them, and they have no recourse,” Spoden said.
Until the incident, Housinga’s performance was average, neither exemplary nor raising any red flags, the sheriff said.
“There was inappropriate conduct by officer Housinga in his role supervising inmates,” Spoden said, adding:
“We want to send a clear message not only to the community but also to those who work at the sheriff’s office that they (officers) are expected to be professional in all their actions and their actions will be measured and they will be held accountable for any action not in the highest standards of the sheriff’s office.”