Jailer Jailed

Ex-Juvenile Corrections security officer charged with lewd conduct with minor at Nampa facility


UPDATE: Nov. 15, 2012

The alleged target of lewd conduct by a supervisor at the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections has filed a civil claim against the State of Idaho and IDJC officials at the Nampa facility.

The victim, a 15-year-old male, says he suffered emotional and personal distress as a result of "statutory rape, lewd, and lascivious conduct, sexual battery, neglect and other acts and omissions committed by employees of the state of Idaho."

The suit also says that the Nampa Police Department was made aware of the conduct after another IDJC employee discovered it.

An affidavit alleges that the victim had a sexual relationship with the supervisor, 31-year-old Julie Mccormick, in July of this year, and that McCormick has the victim's initials tattooed on the side of her neck.

A tort claim filed Wednesday alleges that McCormick groomed the victim "in a manner commonly utilized by child molesters," and that she would launder the victim's clothing and bedding at her home and return them heavily perfumed. The claim also alleges that McCormick would give the victim "love notes" and remove letters and photos from the victim's girlfriend from the victim's cell.

ORIGINAL STORY: Nov. 14, 2012

A former security officer at the embattled Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections facility in Nampa is on the wrong side of a jail cell, slapped with charges of lewd conduct with a child.

The charges followed whistleblower complaints (BW, News, "Culture of Corruption," July 25, 2012) alleging inappropriate sexual relationships between inmates and staffers.

The felony charges against Julie McCormick, 31, come nearly five months after a group of IDJC employees filed suit against the State of Idaho and nearly seven months after IDOC staff reportedly witnessed inappropriate behavior between McCormick and at least one juvenile at the Nampa facility.

"Staff had raised concerns that there was inappropriate behavior and nothing was done," said Rhonda Ledford, one of 12 plaintiffs who filed the suit.

Ledford said she and other staffers witnessed at least one juvenile inmate visit McCormick in her private office, which was out of view from security cameras.

"I walked by and she had a juvenile in her office. A security [officer] has no reason to have a juvenile in her office at all," Ledford said. "I know what I saw was not appropriate."

Ledford said she and staffers reported the incident in April but nothing came of their complaints.

"I was told that several staff were aware of the behavior but were required to sign confidentiality statements about the situation," Ledford said.

McCormick was reportedly fired in August, two months after the whistleblowers' lawsuit was filed.

"In at least two mind-boggling incidents, female IDJC staff members are believed to have been involved in unlawful sexual relationships with male juvenile offenders in their custody," wrote attorney Andrew Schoppe in an amended complaint against the IDJC.

The suit notes that at the time of the complaint's initial filing in June, a "female staffer believed to have had a sexual relationship with a male offender remains on staff there."

Ledford said the criminal charge against McCormick validates the whistleblowers' lawsuit that also alleges rampant cronyism, safety violations and misuse of taxpayer dollars.

Employees reported seeing McCormick being led from the IDJC Nampa facility by police in August. Felony charges of lewd conduct with a child under the age of 16 were filed against McCormick Nov. 2.

Department officials have refused to comment on the suit and couldn't be reached to comment about whether McCormick's termination and criminal charges stem from the whistleblowers' complaint. But IDJC Director Sharron Harringfeld, who is named in the suit, reassured the public of the department's safety standards in a written statement.

"I am confident that our staff and the procedures that we have in place focus on the safety and protection of juveniles in our custody and ensure that when allegations of misconduct are brought forward, they are investigated and appropriate action is taken," Harringfeld wrote.

Court documents allege that McCormick, who was hired by IDJC in 2005, had sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old inmate on at least three occasions in her office and had the teen's name tattooed on her neck.

As of press time, McCormick was being held in the Canyon County Jail on a $200,000 bond.