A Washington state Department of Corrections contractor has admitted to making false allegations of rape against an inmate to cover up her own attempt to pressure the man into having sex with her.
On Friday the Kitsap Sun reported that 32-year-old Taressa Jolene Browning, who was employed by Progress House, a company contracted by the state of Washington to operate the Peninsula Work Release facility, admitted to making the false accusation.
Browning worked as a facility monitor, whose job it is to check up on inmates that were released from prison. Their duties also involve driving the inmates to and from work.
The paper reports that Browning met an inmate, and according to prosecutors, began pressuring the man into having sexual relations with her. The man reportedly refused to have sex with Browning but feared she could revoke his freedom if he refused to give in. According to the paper, another inmate reported Browning to the authorities.
“He didn’t snitch, he isn’t a snitch,” Deputy Prosecutor Ben Turner said to Judge Michelle Adams, the judge overseeing the case. “It was a different inmate who thwarted this.”
Police detectives confronted Browning with the allegations, and she denied having sex with the inmate. When detectives said that they would search her vehicle, Browning accused the inmate of raping her.
The deputy prosecutor said that the false accusation caused harm to the inmate, who “suffered repercussions at the hands of fellow inmates.”
The outlet reports that the prosecutor told Judge Adams that he intended to settle the case with a full admission of guilt instead of waiting for a trial, which could take over a year due to the backlog caused by the pandemic. Furthermore, the inmate’s continued confinement in jail put him at risk of further violence from other inmates due to the false rape allegation.
Deputy Prosecutor Turner said the “whole time the victim would be in jeopardy because of the allegation that he committed a sexual assault.”
Browning pleaded “guilty to first-degree custodial sexual misconduct, second-degree extortion, malicious prosecution and attempted first-degree sexual misconduct,” reports the Sun.
At the plea agreement, Browning offered an apology to her victim saying she understood she caused him harm.
“He is the victim and I am sorry,” she said. “He should have been able to trust me.”
Explaining why she tried to have sex with the inmate, Browning said that she was given paperwork about a 2003 federal law prohibiting employees and contractors from having sex with inmates, but she “hadn’t been able to really read it at all” because she has a fifth-grade reading aptitude.
Judge Adams sentenced Browning to 180 days in jail, including time already served. She will also have to register as a sex offender.