BANGOR – A former kitchen worker at the Penobscot County Jail was sentenced Thursday in Penobscot County Superior Court to two years in prison with all but 30 days suspended for having sex with an inmate earlier this year.
Dawn Chambers, 44, of Bangor also was sentenced to one year of probation after she pleaded guilty to one count of gross sexual assault.
She also will have to register as a sex offender for 10 years because it is a felony in Maine for jail or prison employees to have sex with inmates, even if the inmate consents.
The petite blonde admitted Thursday when she pleaded guilty that she had had sexual intercourse on Jan. 30 and Feb 2 with a 27-year-old inmate whom she supervised in the kitchen. She did not make a further statement.
“If it weren’t for where this occurred, it would not be a crime,” Superior Court Justice Kirk Studstrup told Chambers in handing down the sentence recommended by prosecutors.
Chambers is serving her sentence at the Hancock County Jail, according to Penobscot County Sheriff Glenn Ross. The county will pay to board her at the facility, he said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.
“It just makes sense to put her in another facility where she hasn’t been around other workers and inmates,” Ross said.
The victim, who currently is serving a nine-month sentence at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham for a probation violation, offered to trade drugs for sex.
He was sentenced in March 2002 in Penobscot County Superior Court to four years with all but six months suspended and four years probation on a robbery charge.
After serving his six months, he was jailed once on probation violations after admitting to shoplifting and a second time after testing positive for drugs.
Wearing blue prison clothes and shackles, the victim urged the judge to impose a longer sentence than the one recommended by prosecutors.
“She made advances to me and brought in drugs,” he said. “The same drug I had used [before going back to jail].”
The victim’s parents criticized the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department’s investigation into the incident.
His mother and father said that their son had cooperated with authorities and told the truth, only to lose his status as a trusty, be kicked out of Penobscot County Drug Court and be sentenced to more time in prison.
Chambers was not charged with bringing drugs into the jail.
“My client vigorously denies drug smuggling,” defense attorney Stephen Smith of Bangor told Studstrup after the victim and his parents had spoken.
Penobscot County Assistant District Attorney Gregory Campbell defended to the court the sheriff’s department investigation into the incident that led to the charges against Chambers.
“This was thoroughly and professionally investigated,” he said. “There was no corroboration of the victim’s claim [that Chambers traded sex for drugs].”
Smith, who described his client as “lonely, sad and pathetic,” advocated that Chambers serve two weeks in jail and six months of probation.