No rape charges for 2 ex-Okla. gov mansion workers

AP News
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Posted: Jan 05, 2010 8:21 PM

Two former governor's mansion employees will not be charged with raping female prison inmates assigned to work on the grounds because there is insufficient evidence to support such charges, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said allegations of forced sex made against Anthony Bobelu, 40, and Russell Humphries, 35, couldn't be corroborated.

"If any further evidence is obtained or discovered, we will review the matter and determine if charges should be filed," he said.

Bobelu, the grounds supervisor, and Humphries, the executive chef, were fired from their jobs at the mansion in September after the Department of Central Services determined they had had inappropriate sexual contact with inmates they supervised.

An internal investigation by the Department of Corrections concluded the men committed sexual battery, forcible sodomy and rape against two women assigned to work at the mansion, according to agency spokesman Jerry Massie.

"We believe that it occurred," Massie said. "The charging is one for the district attorney's office. Those are difficult cases, particularly if you don't have any physical evidence."

Tim Henderson, an attorney for the fired workers, said his clients never had sexual contact with their accusers and that they did nothing wrong. He said the inmate-labor program plays an important role in helping rehabilitate inmates, but poses problems for state workers who supervise convicted criminals without extensive training.

"My clients don't have any training on how to handle inmates, other than they need to direct them to cut the bushes, pick up trash and mow the yard," Henderson said. "These guys aren't trained law enforcement personnel that know that when you're dealing with convicted felons, you have to be on high alert for lies, slander and your personal safety."

Janet Roloff, an attorney for one of the former inmates, said she was disappointed Prater was not going to file charges in the case and thinks the investigation should be turned over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

"I don't think the investigation is complete," she said.

Inmates who worked on the governor's mansion grounds were temporarily reassigned after the allegations surfaced but have since returned, Massie said.

Both women waited until after their release from prison to make their allegations, and Roloff said changes are needed to protect inmates who want to speak out about wrongdoing.

"The system makes it punitive to report a crime," Roloff said. "It makes it risky to report that they've been a victim. They lose something. Time. Liberty level. That particular job. If they're not in that job they would be sent back to prison."

"They don't have a way to make confidential complaints and a guarantee there won't be retribution."

Gov. Brad Henry, who lives with his wife and three daughters at the mansion, declined to comment Tuesday.

Mansion officials ordered "refresher training" to remind employees they can't have sex with inmates but otherwise said Tuesday they didn't plan to alter the inmate-labor program for the mansion grounds.

The prison public works program allows minimum-security inmates, even if they have been convicted of a violent crime, to perform various jobs for the state, cities and counties. To determine if an inmate is eligible, Massie said they must be screened by a committee, have a release date and have exhibited good behavior.

Inmates convicted of certain crimes, including sex offenses, murder or crimes against children, are not eligible.

"Generally, they're people we don't consider to be a risk, that interact well, that show good job performance," Massie said. "Obviously, since they'll be interacting in some cases with non-department staff, we want to be sure they exhibit behavior that would warrant their placement in the community."