Five felony charges of sexual contact with a prisoner have been amended to four misdemeanor battery charges following an amended complaint filed by the prosecution on July 18 in a case regarding a Fairfield woman who allegedly had sexual relations with an inmate at the Blaine County Detention Center last year.
Jodi Linn Petty, 48, now faces a maximum of six months in jail for each battery charge.
Petty was originally charged with four counts of sexual contact with an inmate in February, after Petty’s behavior with a jail inmate was noticed by staff and an investigation by the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office eventually led to the charges.
Petty was employed by Summit Foods 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.
However, during a preliminary hearing on April 23, the prosecution failed to provide sufficient evidence for the case to be bound over to District Court as felonies, according to presiding Judge Daniel Dolan. Dolan dismissed the case on the grounds that Petty was not an “employee” of the jail as she was described in the criminal complaint. Petty’s defense attorney, Josh Stanek, contended that Petty was an independent contractor working at the jail and therefore not bound by the state code that she was being charged with breaking.
Prosecutor Matt Fredback filed a new criminal complaint charging Petty with five felony charges of sexual contact with an inmate on May 6, this time defining Petty as an “agent” of the jail—another term used in the statute. The felony case was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on July 18, the same day that Fredback filed the amended complaint leaving the case in Magistrate Court as misdemeanor charges.
In an email to the Idaho Mountain Express, Fredback said the charges were amended after the state was “unable to prove that the defendant was acting as an ‘agent’ of the local jail, as required by the statute, in her capacity of a contract food service worker. Therefore the crime did not meet the elements of the felony charge.”
The amended misdemeanor complaint says Petty kissed and or touched an inmate of the Blaine County Correctional Facility without his permission on several occasions between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15. Petty is scheduled for a pretrial conference for the misdemeanor charges on Aug. 26.