February 12, 2010 – In October of 2009, a female inmate reported that she had been sexually assaulted by a male Detentions deputy while in custody.
Detectives with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office immediately began investigating the allegations.
They said their investigation revealed that Detentions Deputy Anthony Lavis, 55, engaged in unlawful conduct with multiple female inmates that were in-custody at the Lerdo Pre-Trial Facility between July 2009 and October 2009.
In January, another Detentions Deputy, Margarita Young, was accused of giving sexual favors to an inmate and offering to help him escape from the Lerdo Pre-Trial Facility.
Deputies said each of these incidents occurred while Lavis was assigned to the infirmary area of the Lerdo Pre-Trial Facility.
The first reported incident occurred when Lavis began making sexual advances towards one of the female inmates housed in the infirmary, according to the field arrest document. These advances escalated, according to the KCSO.
Detectives conducted a surveillance of the inmate’s cell and gathered evidence that corroborated the inmate’s allegations.
As detectives investigated this incident, they said they began to discover that there were other females that had been housed in the infirmary that had witnessed or been victims of some type of sexual assault, or inappropriate behavior by Lavis, the KCSO reported.
Another female inmate told Martinez that on different occasions, Lavis engaged in inappropriate behavior, according to the arrest document.
Another woman told detectives she had contact with Lavis during the booking process at the downtown jail.
This woman told detectives that Lavis had contacted her after her release from custody, without her consent, soliciting a relationship. The woman told Martinez that she had received phone calls and flowers from Lavis after her release from custody.
She said she never provided any contact information to Lavis while she was in custody and told Martinez that she was surprised he contacted her upon her release.
Lavis has been a Detentions deputy with the Sheriff’s Office for six years.
Lavis has been on paid administrative leave during this investigation.
On Thursday, a warrant was issued for Lavis on charges of one count of sexual penetration with force, three counts of assault by public officer and three counts of touching person intimately against their will for sexual arousal, and, at around 10:00 am, Lavis was arrested and booked into the Central Receiving Facility. His bail has been set at $170,000, and his arraignment has been scheduled for March 2.