The U.S. government has indicted three more people for mistreatment of juveniles held in a facility in Batesville.
A news release from the U.S. attorney said three former officers at the White River Juvenile Detention Center had been charged with conspiring to assault inmates — Will Ray, 26, Thomas Farris, 47, and Jason Benton, 42.
April 26, two former supervisors at the center — Capt. Peggy Kendrick and Lt. Dennis Fuller — pleaded guilty to conspiring to assault inmates. They’ll be sentenced later. Kendrick also pleaded guilty to assaulting a 16-year-old girl with pepper spray and falsifying a report about it.
In the new seven-count indictment, the defendants are also charged with using pepper spray on juveniles and then, rather than decontaminating them, shutting them in their cells to “let them cook.”
Justice Department officials said the excessive force was unconstitutionally and “particularly reprehensible” when used against juveniles who were not resisting.
From the release:
In addition to the conspiracy, Ray is charged in Count Two with participating in the November 6, 2013, assault of a fourteen-year-old boy who had been lying asleep on his bunk.
According to the indictment, Ray grabbed the boy from his bunk and held him so that another officer could spray the boy in the face with pepper spray.
Farris, in addition to the conspiracy, is charged in Count Three with assaulting a seventeen-year-old juvenile on November 21, 2013, by pepper spraying him in the face.
Counts Four through Seven of the Indictment charge Benton with two assaults and with falsifying incident reports related to those assaults. According to the Indictment, on June 6, 2012, Benton assaulted a sixteen-year-old juvenile by grabbing, shoving, and choking him.
The indictment also charges that, on May 19, 2013, Benton assaulted a fifteen-year-old juvenile by pepper spraying him in the face. According to the indictment, none of the juveniles posed a physical threat to anyone nor physically resisted in any way at the times they were assaulted by the officers.
The conspiracy charge alone carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 10 years.