Former Alabama corrections officer pleads guilty to sexual abuse of inmate and trying to get fellow officer to help cover it up

Published 2:30 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A former Alabama corrections officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of sexual abuse of a ward and one count of tampering with a witness after being accused of engaging in a sexual act with an inmate and then trying to get another corrections officer to cover up the incident.

Eric Todd Ellis, 32, a former Bureau of Prisons corrections officer at the FCI-Aliceville facility in Aliceville pleaded guilty today in federal court.

According to court documents, on or about June 11, 2020, Ellis knowingly engaged in a sexual act with a female inmate, while in the back of the laundry room of the prison. At the time, Ellis was on-duty and acting in his capacity as a corrections officer. The female inmate was in official detention and under Ellis’s custodial authority. Ellis subsequently admitted his conduct to another corrections officer.

Thereafter, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (OIG) began investigating Ellis’s conduct. While that investigation was ongoing, Ellis made the following statements – on a recorded call – to that corrections officer (to whom he had previously admitted his conduct) in reference to the federal investigation and his conduct: “Just tell [the OIG agents], yeah, we’re friends, but, I mean, you hadn’t really talked to me about it.  And when you have it’s – I’ve just told you that nothing happened.” Ellis admitted in the plea agreement that he made those statements because was attempting to persuade that other corrections officer to provide false information to OIG agents about his sexual abuse of the female inmate.

“Inmates detained inside jails and prisons have the right to be free from sexual assaults and sexually abusive behavior. The Department of Justice will continue to hold accountable prison employees who exploit their positions of power to sexually abuse individuals in their custody, and then attempt to cover up their misconduct,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Corrections officers who commit sexual assault have no place inside the Bureau of Prisons, and we will continue to fight for justice for victims of these despicable crimes.”

“The Department of Justice strives to maintain a safe, secure, and supportive environment for prison inmates, and one that promotes the successful reentry of inmates into society,” said U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona. “My office works closely with the OIG and Civil Rights Division to investigate and prosecute any sexual abuse of inmates by prison employees.”

“Ellis sexually abused an inmate in his custody and then tried to coerce another correctional officer to help him cover up his crime. The DOJ Office of the Inspector General will continue to investigate and bring to justice anyone who engages in this kind of behavior,” said Special Agent in Charge James F. Boyersmith of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General Miami Field Office.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 26.