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Deputy charged with sexual assault of inmate - Odessa American: Crime Justice

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Deputy charged with sexual assault of inmate

Woman reportedly assaulted during MHMR office visit

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Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2016 12:12 pm

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article contains strong sexual language.

This story was updated at 3 p.m. Oct. 6 to include more information about the reported sexual assault.

 

A now-former deputy with the Ector County Sheriff’s Office accused of forcing two women inmates to perform sexual acts on him has been arrested and charged with sexual assault, a second-degree felony.

One of the reported sexual assaults was during an MHMR office visit.

Alfred John “Johnny” Herrera, 1304 Elmwood Ave., was released Thursday from the Ector County Sheriff's Office on $50,000 bond. The 54-year-old Herrera was fired from the sheriff’s office on Thursday.

Texas Rangers investigated the reported sexual assault starting on Sept. 21 after an attorney called the Rangers’ Midland office to report that his client was sexually assaulted.

The 40-year-old woman, who was given the pseudonym Haley Dawn in a probable cause affidavit, said Herrera forced her to perform oral sex on him and then he sexually assaulted her with his fingers. He also reportedly told her he would use a U.S. Post Office box to deposit money into her account without it being traced back to him.

Dawn was shackled during the reported sexual assault while out of the jail for the MHMR visit. MHMR is a catch-all for services that can include mental health, addiction, disabilities and other needs.

A second woman also claimed Herrera sexually assaulted her, but he was only charged with one count.

Dawn said the sexual assault happened on Aug. 29 when two sheriff’s office deputies transported her and a male inmate from the jail to MHMR. The second deputy went to bring another inmate to a funeral home, leaving Dawn and Herrera alone, the affidavit reported.

Herrera took her to a bathroom while she still had leg and wrist restraints on, blocked the door shut with his body and forced her to perform oral sex on him, the affidavit reported.

She also said in the affidavit that Herrera had a phone in his hand and was either photographing or taking video of the sexual assault.

At that point, Dawn said Herrera sexually assaulted her with his fingers, then made her wash her hands while he washed his.

“Herrera then gave Haley Dawn a specific brand name and specific flavor of hard candy and led her back to the medical facility waiting room area,” the affidavit reported. “After the assault, Herrera discussed obtaining a US Post Office Box so he could deposit money into Haley Dawn’s jail account without it being traced back to him.”

Dawn told investigators she was upset, scared and confused, and began journaling the sexual assault while jailed. She also wrote to her attorney the next day, Aug. 30.

Investigators also verified various parts of Dawn’s story, the affidavit reported, including whether she was at the facility, what time she was there, where the deputies were during the time of the reported sexual assault and also found the journals Dawn wrote regarding the sexual assault.

They also interviewed other inmates and people at the facility.

“One patient remembered the disgusted look Haley Dawn had on her face during the visit,” the affidavit reported.

Rangers also interviewed a second inmate, who was given the pseudonym Marlina, who said Herrera forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2015 while she was shackled to a hospital bed. Marlina was one inmate who Dawn reportedly told investigators might have been another victim.

When Texas Ranger Jim Hatfield interviewed Marlina, she said Herrera sexually assaulted her before Hatfield told her who the subject of the investigation was, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit also noted that Dawn and Marlina did not have any correspondence since nearly a month before Dawn claims to have been sexually assaulted.

Marlina told investigators that she and another inmate were transported to the emergency room in 2015 for medical treatment and that Herrera blocked the door into her room so no one could enter while he forced her to perform oral sex on him. She was shackled to the bed at the time.

She also said that on Aug. 1, 2016, Herrera rubbed his crotch in her face in a book closet before she pushed away from him.

Investigators found video of Herrera escorting Marlina from the rec yard into a book closet on that date, and the affidavit reported “the videoed behavior supports Marlina’s claim.”

Sheriff’s Office Investigator Deborah Puckett and Texas Ranger Brian Burney interviewed Herrera on Sept. 27, and he said he took a woman inmate to the bathroom on Aug. 29 but didn’t enter the bathroom.

Burney then told Herrera that he swabbed the inside of the bathroom door for DNA, at which point Herrera said he might have gone into the bathroom to check on Dawn, but didn’t remember if the door shut while he was in there.

When told of the accusations by Marlina, Herrera said of the booking room incident that Marlina offered to perform oral sex on him.

“He stated, ‘Wow!’ and threw his hands in the air. He stated ‘That scared the shit out of me!’ When asked if he reported the incident, Herrera stated, ‘No harm, no foul,’ ” the affidavit reported.

Herrera also reportedly mentioned Marlina’s other sexual assault accusation, but said she offered him oral sex because he caught her masturbating in the hospital room.

He said he stood in the hallway and refused to be alone with her, but never reported the incident.

Investigators searched Herrera’s house on Sept. 27 and found several pieces of candy that were the same brand and same flavor of candy that Dawn said he gave her after the reported sexual assault.

Sheriff Mark Donaldson said Herrera has been working at the sheriff’s office since 2012, and was certified as a peace officer in May 2015.

Donaldson said Herrera took comp time days on Sept. 28 through Sept. 30, but returned to work on Tuesday and was allowed to transport only male prisoners. Donaldson said he was allowed to return to work because the investigation had not yet been completed.

“We’re supposed to take care, custody and control of those inmates and keep them safe,” Donaldson said. “And mostly that’s to keep them safe from other inmates or anything else that goes on in the jail. In this case it’s one of our own people that didn’t keep them safe."

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