A corrections sergeant at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility was arrested late Tuesday on charges of sexual misconduct with an inmate.
Sgt. Levi D. Gray, 47, was booked into Washington County jail on two felony counts of first-degree custodial sexual misconduct, a charge levied against defendants employed by the state corrections agency who commit sex acts with the incarcerated people under their oversight.
Gray appeared and pleaded not guilty to all of his charges on Wednesday in Washington County Circuit Court.
The case against a prison employee comes less than a week after the release of a state-commissioned report about harsh conditions at Coffee Creek, Oregon’s only women’s prison. Inmates and staff at the prison voiced concerns about retaliation for people who reported sexual misconduct. In response to that report, Gov. Tina Kotek has called for the Wilsonville prison to make immediate changes and convened an advisory panel to make recommendations to improve the safety and quality of life for about 870 incarcerated women.
The indictment, unsealed on Wednesday, accuses Gray of committing two separate sex acts with the same female inmate on May 23. Gray also faces two misdemeanor charges of official misconduct, court records show.
The two sex acts alleged in the indictment involved penetrating the victim with his fingers and oral sex, court records show.
No other details about the allegations were immediately available.
Gray’s attorney listed in court records, Michael Levine, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Spokespeople for the Oregon State Police didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment and details about the arrest and employment history.
Amber Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Corrections, declined to comment on the case, other than to confirm Gray’s dates of employment and that he was placed on administrative leave on May 24, one day after the alleged actions in the indictment.
Gray’s career with the Oregon Department of Corrections started in 2010, when he became a corrections officer at Mill Creek Correctional Facility, according to his service record with the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, the agency that certifies and disciplines corrections officers and other law enforcement professionals. He also worked at Oregon State Correctional Institution and Columbia River Correctional Institute before resigning in 2011, state records show.
Gray was rehired at the agency in 2012 to work at Coffee Creek as a corrections officer. In 2013, he was promoted to a sergeant at Coffee Creek, where he has been assigned for the past decade. He earns about $93,800 a year, according to Amber Campbell, a Department of Corrections spokeswoman.
Gray’s case comes just one month after a federal jury convicted a former nurse at Coffee Creek in July of sexually assaulting nine female inmates. Tony Daniel Klein, 38, was convicted of 17 counts of depriving his victims of their constitutional right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by sexual assault and four counts of perjury. His sentencing is scheduled for October.
The Oregon Department of Corrections has faced criticism for its lack of transparency and accountability, particularly at Coffee Creek. The Oregon Justice Resource Center, a nonprofit advocacy group, recently released a report based on interviews at the prison, where women reported harsh conditions and frequent lockdowns.
That report mirrored aspects of the state’s report, which found inmates submitted grievances that were often rejected. The state’s report said the prison has a lower number of grievances than other facilities but found that’s not a true count, given the rejected grievances.
When the Capital Chronicle recently requested the number of grievances and complaints filed by Coffee Creek inmates, an agency spokesperson said the agency does “not have a comprehensive tracking system” for those files.
Police seek tips
Oregon State police are seeking tips from potential witnesses or victims about Sgt. Levi Gray.
To report information, contact Detective Joshua McNeely, the lead investigator, by calling the Oregon State Police Dispatch Center at 503-731-3030. Callers should use case number SP23-149722.
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Ben Botkin - Oregon Capital Chronicle
Ben Botkin covers justice, health and social services issues for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. He has been a reporter since 2003, when he drove from his Midwest locale to Idaho for his first journalism job. He has written extensively about politics and state agencies in Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. Most recently, he covered health care and the Oregon Legislature for The Lund Report. Botkin has won multiple journalism awards for his investigative and enterprise reporting, including on education, state budgets and criminal justice.