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Teen accuses inmate of rape

Amy Sowder,

An Escambia County Jail inmate has been charged with raping two other inmates — one of them a 15-year-old boy who had been convicted and jailed as an adult.

Emery Curtis Lewis, 33, of Ocean Springs, Miss., is accused of sexually assaulting the teenager at night when the lights were out in their 22-bed quadrant for adult inmates, former jail director Dennis Williams said.

The teen was convicted of arson last year and sentenced as an adult. He was awaiting transfer to state prison for violating a house arrest sentence.

Every penal institution in Florida houses children sentenced as adults with inmates 18 and older, Williams said.

Lewis was charged on April 28 with eight counts of sexual battery against the teen. On Wednesday, he was charged with sexual battery against an adult inmate. No other information was available about that charge.

The teenager told investigators that Lewis raped him repeatedly, but the boy did not immediately report the alleged assaults to corrections officers, Williams said.

Williams was director of the jail for five years. He became director of planning and research for the Sheriff’s Office last Friday.

Jail employees separated the rape suspect and teenager immediately after learning of the sexual assault allegations, Williams said.

On Wednesday, the boy was transferred to the state prison reception facility in Lake Butler. The transfer was not related to the rape allegations, Williams said.

The incident raises the question of the appropriate jail facility for children who have been tried and sentenced as adults.

The State Attorney’s Office often elects to try juveniles who commit serious repeated crimes as adults. In most cases, they are also sentenced as adults.

Assistant State Attorney John Simon handled the arson case involving the teenager and a second juvenile defendant in 2005.

"The State Attorney’s Office elected to prosecute the defendants as adults because of the serious nature of the charges," Simon said at the time.

He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Harry Stopp, the court-appointed attorney for the other defendant, strongly objected at the time to the children being treated as adults.

When Stopp learned of the rape charges on Wednesday, he said he was not surprised.

"What did they think would happen when you put young boys in an adult jail with men?" he asked. "It’s terrible. It’s medieval."

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