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Former Aliceville corrections officer pleads guilty to sexually abusing an inmate, witness tampering, DOJ says

The man admitted he engaged in a sexual act with a female inmate while in the back of the prison's laundry room, according to the DOJ.

ALICEVILLE, Ala. — A former Aliceville, Alabama, corrections officer's sentencing is set for October 26 after pleading guilty on Tuesday to sexually abusing an inmate and witness tampering, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Eric Todd Ellis, 32, engaged in a sexual act with a female inmate while in the back of the prison's laundry room, according to court documents. The DOJ said the woman was under Ellis' custodial authority and that he admitted he had done so to another corrections officer.

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Following this, the DOJ's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) launched an investigation into Ellis' behavior.

According to the DOJ, over the course of the investigation, Ellis made the following statement on a recorded call to the corrections officer who he had previously confided in:

"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."

In the plea agreement, Ellis admitted he made this statement in an attempt to persuade the other officer to provide false statements to investigators regarding the case.

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DOJ Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said there is no place in the Bureau of Prisons for corrections officers who commit sexual assault.

"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 Clarke.

"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."

IN OTHER NEWS: Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs criminal justice reform bills