A former jail guard was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman he was instructed to drive to a local hospital. However, instead of jailing him, the judge allowed him to pick between two sentences for his punishment.
While working in Kentucky as a Franklin County Regional Jail guard, 28-year-old Brandon Scott Price was instructed to transport a female inmate to the emergency room at a local hospital. The woman was suffering from elevated blood pressure that didn’t respond to in-house treatments and continued to climb.
Price alone drove the female inmate to Frankfort Regional Medical Center, where he remained with her for five hours after his shift ended, The State Journal reported. During the time he was with her, he continued to make “sexually-charged comments” while mentioning his connections with a Kentucky Department of Corrections employee, who is in charge of parole decisions, in an attempt to bribe the inmate.
“Though Price’s shift was near its end, Price volunteered to transport (the inmate) to the hospital,” the lawsuit states. “Price transported (the inmate) alone, in violation of Jail policy and industry standards and practices.”
Once the inmate’s blood pressure had been successfully treated, she was discharged into the custody of Price. However, instead of driving her back to the jail, Price pulled off onto a secluded road and climbed into the back of the van to the shackled woman.
“On the way back to the jail, Price turned on Big Eddy Road and stopped the van,” the lawsuit states. “He turned around and told (the inmate) if she performed oral sex on him, he would talk to the KDOC employee he knew about getting her released from jail earlier.”
Price sexually assaulted the bound woman. He later returned her to the jail, where she reported the abuse. Initially, Price denied the allegation. However, as details weren’t adding up, he eventually admitted to engaging in sexual contact with the inmate.
When Price was interviewed about the incident, he denied the allegation of having the inmate perform oral sex on him, but he allegedly said he “made a stupid mistake … I let a female inmate touch me inappropriately,” authorities reported.
The female inmate soon filed a lawsuit against FCRJ personnel, which named Price, then-jailer Rick Rogers, and Capt. Wes Culbertson. Price was then charged with third-degree sodomy, which is a Class D felony, but the charge was later reduced to second-degree sexual assault, which is a Class A misdemeanor.
After his conviction, Judge Thomas Wingate was expected to give Price a lengthy prison sentence. However, instead of throwing the book at him, the judge offered Price his choice of punishment: either go to jail for 12 months or enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces.
“If you don’t enroll in 30 days, you can report to the Franklin County Regional Jail,” Wingate stated. “You are under the gun, young man. You gotta do it.”
Judge Wingate’s decision has drawn criticism for not only allowing an abuser in a position of authority and power to have a choice in his punishment but presenting military service as an acceptable substitute for prison. In fact, he even admitted that he was doing Price a favor by offering for him to dodge jail time.
“You’re getting a huge break,” Wingate said during Price’s sentencing. “You made a terrible mistake, which I know personally cost the county money.”
Of course, as Task & Purpose points out, a judge’s order to enlist doesn’t guarantee that the offender will be accepted into the military. Still, the idea of a sexual abuser avoiding warranted jail time by serving in the military is more than some can stomach. Unfortunately, Judge Wingate’s ruling isn’t the first of its kind, but this particular type of sentence is usually only made during wartime.
The sentence is not only a slap in the face to Brandon Scott Price’s victim but also to those who have willingly enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces. The brave men and women who have selflessly served their country consider it a privilege and honor and not an unfortunate punishment akin to prison.
Price should not be given a choice, as his victim wasn’t given a choice in her abuse. He should be locked away like any other criminal and be subject to the consequences thereof.