Kansas City police confirmed Friday that they are investigating the alleged rape of a female detainee inside the troubled Jackson County jail last Saturday afternoon.
Police provided no other details other than that the suspect was male.
Jackson County officials, who own and operate the jail complex in downtown Kansas City, shared little information about the alleged assault, which sources said occurred inside a restroom. The county issue a brief, written statement in response to an inquiry from The Star.
"On Saturday, May 26, an incident occurred at the Jackson County Detention Center," county spokeswoman Marshanna Hester said. "When corrections staff determined that inappropriate activity may have occurred, they immediately notified law enforcement. In addition to conducting an internal investigation, corrections officials are assisting the Kansas City Police Department in its investigation."
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A recent grand jury report criticized jail operators for security lapses that allow rapes and other violence to occur within the detention center.
Two outside audits and an investigation conducted by a private law firm at the request Jackson County Executive Frank White all stemmed from the sexual assaults in August 2016 of two women who were being detained on minor charges. They were attacked by men awaiting trial for violent felonies who had gotten hold of a guard's keys.
The grand jury said jail staffing and shortcomings in the facility's physical layout make the eight-story detention center and other buildings in the jail complex unsafe for inmates and guards alike.
Security issues have led to rapes of male inmates by other men awaiting trial, and guards have suffered beatings, fueling a year-long discussion on whether a new, single-level jail would be more secure than the deteriorating complex at 1300 Cherry St.
County legislator Crystal Williams, who like most of her colleagues supports building a new jail, said Friday that incidents like the one last weekend simply shouldn't happen.
"I'm very frustrated that basic safety procedures aren't being followed and people continue to be hurt," she said. "Those two detainees shouldn't have been in the bathroom."