Inspector General’s office alleges gross misconduct by Pontiac prison staff
PEORIA (25 News Now) - The Illinois Department of Corrections and Office of Executive Inspector General have concluded an investigation into misconduct at the Pontiac Correctional Center. Nine employees and now former employees were investigated for “discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and unprofessional conduct.”
The 50-page document summarizes the investigation and events leading up to several suspensions, and termination.
The investigation began after complaints were filed by an IDOC employee at the Pontiac prison on June 13 and 21, 2019. That employee reported misconduct by a superior, Lt. Adrian Corley. The incident began when the unnamed employee, who is referred to as Employee #1, wrote up an inmate for sexual misconduct.
In the report, employee #1 stated the inmate “put his genitals through the cell bars and was masturbating towards the employee.” After the incident was reported to superiors, Lt. Corley then created a fake IDOC form and told Employee#1 he needed to draw a picture depicting exactly what happened during the incident.
Employee #1 complied with the request from his superior and filled out the fake form, including a drawing of what happened. Lt. Corley then distributed the drawing to dozens of other staff members for their “amusement” including higher ranking officials.
In addition to the fake form making the rounds at the prison, Employee #1 reported “numerous instances of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and unprofessional conduct from supervisors and peers due to [his] sexual orientation.” Some of these included, “anti-gay slurs, prank calls at work, graffiti with sexual connotations about him, and one incident in which a co-worker pressed his body against the employee.”
Employee #1 requested a transfer from Pontiac prison on numerous occasions from January through August 2019 but all were denied.
In a January 6, 2020 exit interview after Employee #1 resigned, he said “he took another position elsewhere, at a lower pay rate, because he wanted a fresh clean slate.”
Warden Teri Kennedy said during the investigation that these pranks were “just basically a rite of passage kind of thing”, and “a laugh.”
The Inspector General’s office recommended discipline “up to discharge” for Lt. Corley, Warden Teri Kennedy, Assistant Wardens Glendal French and Emily Ruskin, Majors Rich Cooper, Susan Prentice, William Shelton, and John Wheat. They also recommended Mr. Fernando Chavarria be removed from his duties pertaining to Affirmative Action and require additional training.
Lt. Adrian Corley was terminated following the investigation. The Department terminated wardens Glendal French and Emily Ruskin on March 5, 2021. Warden Teri Kennedy and Major John Wheat retired following the completion of the report, but prior to any administrative action being initiated due to the report. Several others served suspensions after filing grievances regarding their punishment.
Copyright 2022 WEEK. All rights reserved.