A former prison doctor faces a lengthy prison sentence after pleading guilty to sexually abusing inmates when they came to him for treatment at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta.
And officials are concerned for the man’s safety once he enters the system that he repeatedly abuse.
Dr. Lewis Jackson, 34, admitted Monday to trying to perform oral and anal sex on inmates in 2011, according to the United States Attorney.
And he still has to answer to similar charges in Washington for allegedly molesting an inmate at the District of Columbia jail in 2008.
“The inmates Dr. Jackson saw at the U.S. Penitentiary had a right to humane treatment during their incarceration,” U.S. Attorney Mrs. Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement. “Instead, Dr. Jackson used his authority to sexually abuse prisoners.”
Dr. Jackson worked as a physician at the penitentiary, which houses medium-security male inmates and has a satellite camp for minimum-security male inmates, from January 2011 through July 2012.
In October 2011, Dr. Jackson tried to perform oral sex on three inmates during the course of their medical exams, according to court records. In one case, Dr. Jackson also attempted to engage in anal sex with an inmate.
When confronted by federal agents, Dr. Jackson denied engaging in the sex acts. But after agents played an undercover recording made by one of the inmates, he recanted.
Dr. Jackson was indicted in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia with three counts of sexually abusing another inmate in the District of Columbia Jail in 2008.
According to that indictment, Dr. Jackson, who worked at the Veteran Affairs hospital, performed a series of sex acts on the inmate after he sought medical treatment while in jail.
He was on bond in that case at the time of his arrest in Atlanta, according to court records.
Dr. Jackson was initially scheduled to enter his guilty plea on Aug. 23, but that was delayed because he tried to commit suicide the previous day, according to a media report.
He was then hospitalized for seven days.
U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg, concerned whether Dr. Jackson, a little more than a month after the incident, could make a voluntary and intelligent decision to plead guilty.
She asked him if he was prepared to proceed, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Dr. Jackson, who was accompanied by his wife and parents to the hearing, said he was.
During his hospitalization, Dr. Jackson said, he was diagnosed with mental health conditions he was unaware he had. He told Judge Totenberg he is now taking medication, receiving excellent therapy and “I’ve got the most wonderful and supportive family.”
Judge Totenberg, concerned for his mental health and what could happen to him once he is admitted into the federal prison system, conditionally accepted the doctor’s plea. She set his sentencing for Feb. 7.
Judge Totenberg said she would formally accept his plea once she learns more about what will happen with him once he receives what could be a lengthy federal prison sentence.
Such defendants can become targets of predatory inmates or be housed in isolation, the judge said.
“I’m very concerned about the mental health, the security issues, the segregation issues in this case,” Judge Totenberg said.
Dr. Jackson, charged with three counts of sexually abusing a ward and lying to federal agents, faces up to 15 years in prison for each of the sexual abuse charge.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine said the U.S. Bureau of Prisons will have the final word on Dr. Jackson’s treatment and placement, but he told Judge Totenberg he would learn more about it before the sentencing hearing, the AJC reported.
Both Mr. Erskine and Judge Totenberg said they were concerned for Dr. Jackson, who is now free on bond.
“We don’t want him to hurt himself like he did in October,” Judge Totenberg said, encouraging Dr. Jackson to “stay within the hold of your family.”
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