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Prison, Pasquotank Sheriff investigating inmate sexual assault

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Saturday, July 20, 2019

State prison officials and the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office are investigating an alleged sexual assault that occurred earlier this month at Pasquotank Correctional Institution.

PCI is investigating an "offender-on-offender sexual assault" alleged to have occurred on the afternoon of July 5, N.C. Department of Public Safety Communications Officer John Bull wrote in an email this week.

He declined to identify the alleged assailant or provide details about the incident, including how the assault was able to occur within a close-custody prison. DPS doesn't want to release information that could jeopardize the investigation, he wrote.

Bull also reported the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office was called in to investigate as well.

Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten confirmed his office is investigating in a press release on Friday.

The sheriff's office was called in on July 8, Wooten said, adding neither inmate needed medical treatment after the incident. The office's investigation continues, he said.

Bull said DPS has "zero tolerance" for sexual abuse or other inappropriate behaviors in state prisons.

"I cannot emphasize enough how seriously we take educating our staff and offenders on this topic," he said.

He further explained prisons are regularly audited and inspected for compliance with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, noting that every prison uses a "standardized PREA sexual abuse coordinated response plan."