The Salem News reports that Patricia Papa, a former employee of the Sheriff’s Department for Essex County Massachusetts has been charged with having sexual relations with an inmate. Papa worked at the Lawrence Correctional Alternative Center, commonly known as the farm. The allegations focus on a one month period covering most of March of this year. The case is being prosecuted in the Essex County Superior Court in Salem.
It appears that the statute under which Papa is being prosecuted is Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 268 Section 21A. That statute makes it a crime for any corrections officer or anyone employed by a correctional institution to engage in sexual relations with an inmate. A conviction for this offense can result in a fine of up to ten thousand dollars and a five year state prison sentence. Consent is not a defense to these charges. So, how can Papa defend against these allegations? Obviously a lot depends on the evidence against her. Did someone see her engaged in sexual activities with the inmate? Were the acts caught on security and surveillance videos? Or was it the inmate himself who made the accusations? You would think that if this were happening that Papa would avoid such actions in view of any electronic monitoring equipment. As an employee of the sheriff’s office she would arguably know that such devices existed and the location where the cameras were operating from. Eyewitness testimony in cases like this one are often suspect as well. Keep in mind, these people are convicted criminals sentenced to a period of incarceration. Their credibility is suspect. Jurors have difficulty believing the testimony of someone who is serving a jail sentence. The first thing that goes through a juror’s mind when listening to an incarcerated person’s testimony is “what is in this for this guy? Why is he testifying for the prosecution?” There almost always has to be substantial corroboration for jurors to convict someone based on an inmate’s testimony. None was mentioned in this article. Rather, simply bare allegations that Papa had sexual relations with an inmate.
I can recall a case like this one many years ago where proof against the defendant was an easy task for the district attorney. The defendant was a woman, correctional officer at a state prison. She had a relationship with an inmate at a much more secure facility that the Lawrence Farm. She got pregnant and had the inmate’s child. She was terminated. In Papa’s case there is no indication that the prosecutor’s case is that clear cut.
Attorney Stephen Neyman has defended all types of accused, including law enforcement officials. Cases like this one are serious and deserve and need the immediate attention of an Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney. You can call our office anytime. Our number is 617-263-6800. You can also contact us online. We return all calls promptly. Protect yourself. Hire a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer now.