Fresno County Jail Inmate Involved in Sex Scandal Tells His Side

November 11, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A jailhouse interview is shedding new light on a suspected sex scandal at the Fresno County Jail involving an inmate, and a woman who was guarding him. It's a follow-up to an Action News Exclusive.Action News obtained love letters that an inmate says prove a female guard is harassing and sexually abusing him. The sheriff's department has launched both a criminal and internal affairs investigation against a female corrections officer.

RELATED STORY:
Fresno Inmate Claims Correctional Officer is Sexually Abusing Him

Corrections Officer Maria Veronica Quintanilla is on paid leave while investigators determine if she sent love letters or had a sexual relationship with inmate Richard Burrell. The man is in custody for drunk driving with his kids in his car. Burrell calls his experiences with Quintanilla-horrifying sexual abuse that lasted 19 weeks.

Burrell called Action News from the Fresno County Jail and said, "It went from small talk, just ordinary small talk type joking around type things. Until after that it started becoming more and more aggressive." He's been placed in solitary confinement after his attorneys shared these love letters with Action News. Words of romance and remarks about biting and kissing are written throughout these pages. Burrell says Corrections Officer Maria Veronica Quintanilla wrote the letters and says they had a sexual encounter inside the jail. Burrell said, "From there it turned into ... like touching on me like outside of my jumpsuit, you know outside of my clothing, kissing on me, always like trying to bite on me, like bite on my lip or bite on my neck."

Only one letter hints to the writer's identity. It is signed: "Love Me-Veronica"-the same middle name of the corrections officer now on paid leave. The letter states: "You asked me why I felt scared ... You're mine here. Things will change when you (are) out. How much I don't know. That's what (is) scary."

Burrell claims he collected the letters once Quintanilla restricted his privileges as he tried to end the encounters. Burrell said, "Those threats led me to believe that I was in jeopardy. That my safety was in jeopardy. So ... just like your question, why didn't you come out sooner? Who is going to believe my word? I had to try to get something to back my word up."

Sheriff Margaret Mims released this statement: "I am not able to comment on the allegations against Officer Quintanilla other than to say she is on paid administrative leave pending the results of a criminal and administrative investigation."

Defense Attorneys Dan Martin and Amy Guerra represent the inmate. Guerra said, "They have complete control over him. I think that's something that people probably struggle with to understand. He is at the complete peril of whatever those guards decide." Martin said, "When she began to fondle him and accost him physically, that became a crime."

Action News reviewed the California Penal Code and found a section listing sexual activity between a guard and an inmate as a crime. The sheriff confirms- her investigators are determining if Officer Quintanilla violated the law.

Action News called Quintanilla several times asking for a comment but she has not responded. We also went to where she lives. A man approached us telling us she no longer stays at the house.



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