Two charged in Grimes County jail sex case
By LAURA HENSLEY
Eagle Staff Writer
Two Grimes County jailers were arrested Tuesday after they admitted to having sex with female inmates, authorities said.
D’Andrae Chatman, 20, of Navasota and Norman Minor, 27, of Bryan turned themselves in and resigned their positions after a weeklong investigation revealed that each had intercourse with an inmate, sheriff’s officials said. The sex acts occurred in the jail’s chapel and a filing room within the past month, according to investigators.
The men were in jail Tuesday waiting to be arraigned by a judge, who will set their bond.
If found guilty of improper sexual activity with a person in custody — a state jail felony — Chatman and Minor will face up to 180 days incarceration and a $10,000 fine. They also could be sentenced to up to five years of probation.
An internal investigation was launched Jan. 3 when a letter written by one of the female inmates was intercepted by jail staff. The letter, which was found during what is considered a normal review of inmate mail, indicated possible wrongdoing by some of the male jail employees, Sheriff Don Sowell said.
Investigators began questioning jail employees and two female inmates — one in jail on a marijuana possession charge and the other being held for drunken driving and driving with a suspended driver’s license. Each of the women has been in jail since last fall awaiting trials or hearings.
The inmates told police that on Dec. 17 they were in the jail chapel watching a movie when Minor and Chatman approached them.
Sowell said it is normal for jailers to lock inmates in the chapel as they watch movies unsupervised.
Chatman took one of the women inside the chapel’s library and had sex with her, the sheriff said. Minor then took the other woman into the library, where they had sex.
One woman told police the jailers pressured them into having intercourse, but District Attorney Tuck McLain said there is no indication of force, injury or harassment — which would constitute sexual assault.
“It’s not clear that’s what happened,” McLain said about the woman’s allegation that she was pressured to have sex. He also said one of the women had a relationship with Minor before she was in jail.
The woman who had sex with Minor on Dec. 17 also told police that on a later occasion he took her out of her cell and into a small filing room, where they had sex. She said Minor grabbed his badge and bragged to her that he could have sex with her because he had a badge.
During the investigation, detectives recovered semen from a wall in the chapel library. Physical evidence was not found inside the filing room, investigators said.
When confronted with the evidence, both Chatman and Minor admitted to having sex with the women, officials said. The two had worked at the Grimes County Jail for about six months.
Sowell said the situation is an embarrassment to his office and does not reflect the overall quality of his staff.
“I’m sheriff, and I’m taking responsibility. The buck stops with me,” he said. “I’m disgusted, but we’ll move on. I have some great employees, and this has tarnished their reputation. I’ve got so many excellent employees, and they are embarrassed and disgusted by this. We are better than this.”
About 18 men and women work at the Grimes County Jail in Anderson. A usual shift consists of four employees watching over the jail’s predominantly male inmate population.
Although women inmates are kept separately from men, it is normal for jailers of both genders to interact with male and female inmates, officials said.
Sowell said he does not plan on changing policies within the jail as a result of the arrests, but the incidents have reminded his staff to be more observant.
“I have good policies. I have good procedures. I have good rules in place,” he said. “I’ve done everything I can do to put down good policy. These two took it upon themselves and violated the trust and responsibilities I gave to them as jailers. They deceived everybody and created this situation. They knew better.
“I’ve got two people who decided to do bad, and now they will have to pay.”
• Laura Hensley’s e-mail address is email@example.com.