A 27-year-old woman formerly employed in food services at Maple Lane School, a correctional facility for juveniles, is charged with having a sexual relationship with a male inmate when he was 16.
The Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Lindsay Anne Mitchell on Thursday with two counts of first-degree custodial sexual misconduct and one count of tampering with a witness for the alleged sexual relationship, which occurred between April 2008 and November 2009, court papers state.
Mitchell’s arraignment is scheduled for June 15.
A spokesman for the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, Thomas Shapley, said Mitchell no longer works for Maple Lane School. DSHS is the government agency that oversees Maple Lane School, a medium- and maximum-security fenced facility in Grand Mound.
Mitchell was placed on “alternative assignment” on April 2, 2009, meaning she could have no contact with juvenile offenders at the facility, Shapley said. She was placed on “home assignment” five weeks later, meaning she worked from home, he added.
Mitchell resigned April 2, 2010, Shapley said.
Shapley said the teen no longer is at Maple Lane School.
According to court papers:
The Washington State Patrol began an investigation in April 2009, when the inmate’s mother contacted law enforcement because she thought her son was having a sexual relationship with the employee.
The boy’s mother told a detective that her son said he had a 19-year-old girlfriend he had met on the Internet. She said she became concerned because her son is bipolar and “she felt he could be taken advantage of.” The detective later learned that in August 2008 the teen sent Mitchell $300 from his Maple Lane School account.
The boy’s mother said her son later told her that his girlfriend was much older than he had initially said.
In April 2009, the detective interviewed the boy, now 17, while he was at the King County Juvenile Detention Center. He said that during his first year at Maple Lane School, he started working in the kitchen as a stocker and began a relationship with Mitchell. He said he “worked it out” so he could work in the kitchen while Mitchell was working. He said they worked alone together in the “dish room” and in a storeroom.
He said they started a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, and he gave her his phone number for his cottage at Maple Lane School. He said she used a different name when she called so she would not get caught.
He said they had sexual relations twice in Maple Lane School, once while he was 16 and once while he was 17. After the boy’s release from Maple Lane School, the two continued a relationship. Mitchell broke off the relationship in January 2009 because of investigations going on at Maple Lane School. On one occasion, Mitchell texted him and told him to “remember” in regard to anyone talking to him about the investigation.
Under Washington law, a person is guilty of custodial sexual misconduct when “the victim is a resident of a state, county, or city adult or juvenile correctional facility” and “the perpetrator is an employee or contract personnel of a correctional agency and the perpetrator has, or the victim reasonably believes the perpetrator has, the ability to influence the terms, conditions, length, or fact of incarceration or correctional supervision.”
Consent is not a defense under state law.
Shapley said Friday that as soon as Maple Lane School officials realized there might be a problem, they made sure the woman no longer had contact with other inmates.
The state budget calls for a phased closure of Maple Lane School by 2013.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465 firstname.lastname@example.org