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Deputy Accused of Sex With Inmate Could Face Jail

Arrest: Four misdemeanor counts carry sentences of up to a year each if defendant is found guilty.

September 18, 1997|SCOTT STEEPLETON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

VENTURA — A 27-year-old sheriff's deputy, who was nearing the end of a three-year stint as a guard at the County Jail, could face four years of jail time if found guilty of having consensual sex with a female inmate, authorities said.

Daniel De Vall of Camarillo is charged with four misdemeanor counts of unlawful sex with an inmate at the main jail on Victoria Avenue.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Tom Temple said three of those counts involve oral copulation. The fourth alleges De Vall and the inmate, whose name is being withheld, engaged in sexual intercourse.

All of the sex acts allegedly happened in July and August while De Vall was assigned to the main jail. The California Penal Code prohibits detention services employees, including deputies, from engaging in sex with inmates.

"We charged him with four counts of penal code Section 289.6, which is consensual sex with an inmate by a jail keeper," Temple said.

De Vall will be arraigned Oct. 17. If convicted, he faces a maximum of one year in County Jail on each of the four charges, Temple said.

Judge Barry Klopfer signed the four-count arrest warrant Tuesday, and De Vall was arrested at the jail about 6 p.m. the same day. He was booked and released on recognizance.

He is on paid administrative leave while the case makes its way through court.

Citing personnel issues, Sheriff's Department officials would not say where the sex acts are alleged to have taken place.

"This involves a county employee, and they have rights," said Capt. Keith Parks.

Parks pointed out that the jail books and releases about 30,000 people each year, and said that he cannot recall a case in which someone assigned to watch over inmates was accused of having sex with one.

"This is like being struck by lightning," Parks said. "We have an excellent record for safely housing inmates."

De Vall's alleged involvement with the inmate came to light last week when the jail staff noticed fraternization between the two, Parks said. Just how the deputy and the inmate were able to carry on their alleged relationship within the jail is unclear, considering deputies are usually not left alone with inmates of either gender.

"The jail management is looking at how and where this happened," Parks said.

Deputies start their careers in the detention services division, working at one of the several jails and honor farms in the county. They move to other assignments, such as court security or patrol, after about three years.

"De Vall was just about there," Parks said.

De Vall is not the first Ventura County deputy suspected of running afoul of the law.

In 1985, Gary Adams was convicted of sexual battery against another Sheriff's Department employee and sentenced to three years in prison.

And Darryl Dunn, who in 1995 was decorated for meritorious police service, was sentenced to 180 days in jail after he admitted to stealing a $3,500 laptop computer from the Sheriff's Department and collecting $4,600 by submitting false overtime claims.

Prosecutors said some of the time Dunn charged to the county was actually spent working at a gym he once owned.

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