A Fairfield woman who worked at the Blaine County jail is once again charged with multiple felony counts of sexual contact with a prisoner after a similar case was dismissed in April when a judge found there was insufficient evi-dence for the case to be prosecuted. On May 6, prosecutor Matt Fredback filed a new criminal case, charging Jodi Linn Petty with five counts of sexual contact with a prisoner.
Petty, 48, appeared in court on June 10 for an initial appearance, at which the charges were explained and maximum penalties stated. According to the criminal complaint, Petty had sexual contact with a prisoner on five occasions between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15.
She is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Monday, at which time the prosecutor must present sufficient evidence to the judge for the case to be bound over to District Court.
In April, Petty was facing four counts of the same charge, and at a preliminary hearing on April 23, the inmate with whom Petty allegedly had sexual contact with testified, explaining to the court how the relationship developed and how and where they had sex in the jail.
Petty was employed by Summit Food Services, the company contracted to provide food to the inmates. She worked as a kitchen worker, supervising inmates who also worked in the kitchen preparing food. According to the inmate with whom Petty allegedly had sex, the relationship began developing at the end of November while he was housed at the jail waiting to be transported to a prison to serve his sentence. The inmate testified at Petty’s preliminary hearing in April that the relationship developed into a sexual one after two instances when he and Petty were alone in the kitchen’s walk-in freezer—where there were no surveillance cameras—and kissed. The inmate testified that he and Petty had sexual contact four times in the freezer within a week.
However, presiding Judge Daniel Dolan stated after arguments at the preliminary hearing that even though evidence established that Petty had sexual contact with an inmate, there was no evidence presented that she was an employee of the Blaine County Detention Center, as she was described in the criminal complaint, meaning the state code she was being charged with violating did not apply to her.
Idaho code says it is a felony for any “officer, employee or agent of a … correctional facility … to have sexual contact with a prisoner.” Petty’s defense attorney, Josh Stanek, argued at the April 23 preliminary hearing that Petty was working as a contractor for the jail on behalf of Summit Food Services and therefore was not an employee of the jail or the Sheriff’s Office as defined in state code.
In the new criminal complaint, Petty is described as an “agent of the Blaine County Detention Center,” a term that is mentioned in the state code, but not defined.