A former Knox County Deputy Jailer has been indicted for rape nearly three years after she was fired for allegedly assaulting an inmate.
On Tuesday, November 28, Jennifer Ross, 36, was indicted by a Knox County grand jury for an offense that allegedly occurred in August 2014. The indictment stated that Ross “acted alone or in concert with others committed the offense of Rape in the Third Degree by engaging in sexual intercourse” while she was “in a position of authority” with an inmate at the Knox County Detention Center.
When asked about the delay for bringing the indictment against Ross, Kentucky Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele said “A substantial part of that delay was awaiting state lab testing on some of the evidence.”
Speculation swirled Tuesday as the timing of Ross’ new indictment comes just as Knox County Jailer Mary Hammons heads into an election. Addressing the situation, Steele commented “I have never nor would I ever allow politics to determine the manner or timing of prosecutions of criminal cases.”
Both Hammons and Steele have confirmed with The Mountain Advocate that Ross has not been employed with the Knox County Detention Center since she was fired in October 2014.
The charge of third degree rape in this case stems from Kentucky Revised Statutes 510.060 (e) which reads: “Being a jailer, or an employee, contractor, vendor, or volunteer of the Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justice, or a detention facility as defined in KRS 520.010, or of an entity under contract with either department or a detention facility for the custody, supervision, evaluation, or treatment of offenders, he or she subjects a person who he or she knows is incarcerated, supervised, evaluated, or treated by the Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justice, detention facility, or contracting entity, to sexual intercourse.”
The charge of rape in the third degree is a Class D felony in the state of Kentucky and is punishable by 1-5 years in prison.
Ross and Sheila Brown, both former deputy jailers at the Knox County Detention Center, were indicted in December 2014 on three counts. The first count was first-degree criminal abuse after they allegedly abused Tammy Spicer, an inmate at the time, who the indictment stated was “physically helpless at the time.” The second count indicted Brown and Ross for first-degree official misconduct after committing “acts related to their office of deputy jailer which constituted an unauthorized exercise of their official functions – all with the intent to injure Spicer.” The third count was for fourth-degree assault for allegedly causing physical injury to Spicer.
Ross and Brown were sentenced in 2015 to 12 months confinement, which was probated for 24 months after serving 30 days in jail. Brown was allowed to serve her time in home incarceration due to a medical condition.
Ross is due back in court on Friday, December 1 for a pre-trial conference.