A former correctional officer at Georgia's Emanuel Women’s Facility in Swainsboro now faces 51 months behind bars himself after allegedly sexually assaulting three inmates under his supervision between 2012 and 2013, according to the Department of Justice.
The defendant, 51-year-old Edgar Daniel Johnson, was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to multiple charges in 2017.
“This defendant abused his legal authority to prey on vulnerable women who had been entrusted to his care,” said acting assistant attorney general John Gore said in a news release. “The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting the rights of all individuals, and will hold law enforcement officers who violate the law accountable.”
Johnson was first arrested in 2015 after 11 then-current or former inmates accused him of touching, groping or having sex with them at the detention center, WTOC reported. The number of accusers eventually grew to 13, according to the station.
"It's a professional embarrassment to all of us if these allegations are true," Emanuel County Sheriff Tyson Stephens told WTOC at the time.
As he was first being taken into custody, Johnson said "I didn't do this. I haven't done anything. I know I’m innocent. I have nothing to be afraid of or guilty of," according to WSB-TV.
The Associated Press interviewed four women who accused Johnson of sexually assaulting them. The women said Johnson called himself a pastor and offered to use his influence to help them.
"He got a feel for your story to see what angle he could come at you with,” one woman told the AP.
After that, the women said he would make suggestive comments, then move on to touching and sex. The women told the Associated Press that Johnson would threaten to work the system to keep them from seeing their children if they reported anything.
"“We did a crime and we were sentenced, but nowhere did it say that we had to be his sex slaves. He took something from us that we can never get back," one of the women told the Associated Press. Johnson's attorney told the AP they 'vehemently' denied the allegations.
In October of 2017, Johnson pleaded guilty to three counts of willfully depriving inmates of their Eighth Amendment rights, three counts of obstruction for coercing the women to cover up the assaults, as well as another charge in relation to him calling in a fake bomb threat.
During the plea hearing, the Department of Justice said Johnson admitted to forcing three inmates to have sex with him against their will, then coercing them into covering up the story and helping him avoid detection by investigators.
“Corrections officials have a difficult and important job, but we cannot allow them to abuse their authority and assault the very people they are charged with supervising," J.C. Hacker, acting special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta, which helped investigate the case, said in a news release. "The FBI will not allow the actions of a few to tarnish the many corrections officials who do their job every day, maintaining order and respecting the law.
Johnson was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison, and will have to make some form of restitution to his victims, according to the release from the Department of Justice.