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Devils Lake jailer accused of sex assualt against inmate

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. -- A jailer at Devils Lake’s Lake Region Law Enforcement Center is facing a felony charge of sexual assault on a female inmate.

Jonathan James Defoe, 23, was charged Thursday in Northeast District Court in Devils Lake.

The incident occurred in a jail cell July 3, said Devils Lake police Detective Sue Schwab.

The Class C felony, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, stems from the charge that he was on duty as a correctional officer, or in a position of authority, Schwab said.

She said Defoe is no longer employed by the law enforcement center, where he had worked for about one month.

Defoe’s initial court appearance on the charge will be at 9 a.m. Monday. He has been released on bond, according to Schwab.

The Devils Lake law enforcement center has been embroiled in controversy over the past two months over issues of staff turnover.

In May, the North Dakota Department of Corrections ordered the facility to stop housing juveniles until it can correct its staffing problems.

At a Law Enforcement Center board meeting earlier this week, officials learned that it might take until January or later for new correctional officers to get the proper training, which is required before the juvenile portion of the facility can reopen.

In the meantime, juveniles are being transferred to the Grand Forks County Juvenile Detention Center.

The Lake Region Law Enforcement Center serves Ramsey, Benson, Towner, Eddy and Nelson counties. It also houses Devils Lake Police Department, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department, Lake Region 911 and Lake Region Correctional Center.

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