Sex Behind Bars, Cleveland Scene, December 10, 2003.

Earlier this year, Scene reported on the misadventures at the Northeast Pre-Release Center, where an unusually high number of prison employees had been disciplined for having sex with female inmates. Even the investigator charged with examining sexual abuse by guards was under investigation for sexual harassment ["Authority Problem," March 12, and "Fox in the Jailhouse?," August 6]. Now the same issues are being raised at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marion. The national group Stop Prisoner Rape claims that, according to three whistleblowers, ORW staffers keep a mattress in the boiler room for sexual escapades with inmates, that a unit manager received oral sex from an inmate in his office, that one therapist had a picture of a nude inmate in his office, and that consensual sex between guards and inmates is common.

Misbehaving guards are rarely prosecuted, the group further asserts. One investigator sometimes took home forensic evidence and then claimed to have lost it. And an unwritten policy of "screw up and move up" dictates that staff members caught in trysts are often transferred to more desirable positions, the group maintains.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction disputes the accusations.

"Whenever employees are involved in inappropriate relationships, the appropriate discipline is rendered," says ODRC spokeswoman Andrea Dean. "And I want to emphatically refute that there is a mattress in a boiler room. There is not. It offends me that a group would infer that we allow this type of behavior, because we do not."