A corrections officer at the Cowlitz County Jail has been arrested on allegations that he had sexual contact with a female inmate after giving her a small amount of edible marijuana, the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday.
Kelly Burgin, 50, of Castle Rock was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of unlawful delivery of marijuana, introducing contraband into the jail and custodial sexual misconduct.
Burgin, who had been a Cowlitz Corrections Officer for three months, was terminated Wednesday, according to a sheriff’s office press release.
The inmate has been cooperative and remains in custody, the sheriff’s office reported. Authorities are not identifying her. Chief Criminal Deputy Charlie Rosenzweig said the inmate herself reported the sexual contact to jail staff, who in turn notified the sheriff’s office.
He said there is no other indication of any other similar offenses.
Cowlitz County Jail Director Marin Fox Hight said her department does a full background check on all applicants for corrections officer positions. The whole process can last two to three months.
“This includes polygraph, psychological evaluation, and full investigation into applicant’s background,” including education, employment history, drug use and arrest history, residence history, finances, personal references, etc. The process typically takes between 8 to 12 weeks,” Fox Hight said in a written response to TDN’s questions.
She added that corrections personnel are not searched or checked when entering the jail. “It would be logistically impossible to search our officers every time they enter or exit our facility, as that occurs all day every day.”
She noted that searching officers is not the industry standard. “I am not aware of any jail that searches their officers prior to entrance into their facility.”
“This is the bad acts of one individual. We have not had any situation like this occur in any recent history. We take this very seriously, and dealt with it as such,” Fox Hight said.
Burgin was booked into the Clark County Jail and was scheduled to appear in Cowlitz County Superior Court on Thursday.
It is common for law enforcement agents who become criminal suspects to be booked in another county, Rosenzweig said.