The U.S. attorney’s office in Little Rock announced today that two former supervisors at the White River Juvenile Detention Center in Batesville had pleaded guilty to conspiring to assault juvenile inmates.
The guilty pleas came from Capt. Peggy Kendrick, 43, and Lt. Dennis Fuller, 40. According to the office news release, Kendrick also pleaded guilty to assaulting a 16-year-old girl with pepper spray and falsifying a report about it.
A federal charging document said Kendrick, Fuller and other unnamed officers:
“… assaulted and physically punished juvenile detainees, who posed no threat, by spraying them in the face with pepper spray. In some instances, they then shut the compliant juveniles in their cells after pepper spraying them to “let them cook,” rather than immediately decontaminating them. Kendrick also encouraged the juvenile detention officers, who unjustifiably assaulted juveniles, to falsify their incident reports to cover up the assaults.”
Justice Department officials issued statements condemning the actions by corrections officers and said they would not be tolerated. An FBI spokesman was quoted as saying agents were “appalled” at what had been done to minors.
The investigation is ongoing, the news release said. Cooperating witnesses would be useful in other prosecutions.