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Former Ferguson jail guard admits allowing inmate to escape

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FERGUSON • A former correctional officer at the jail here pleaded guilty Friday in St. Louis County Circuit Court to criminal charges, admitting he allowed an inmate to escape.

Jaris Hayden, 31, pleaded guilty of two felonies: being a public servant acceding to corruption and permitting an escape.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Ashley Bailey-Smith dropped two charges of having sex with an inmate, court records show.

“He made a regrettable decision, and he understands it,” said Hayden’s attorney, Scott Rosenblum. The attorney stressed that Hayden made no admission that he had sexual contact with the inmate.

Rosenblum also said he believed prosecutors would recommend a three-year prison term at Hayden’s sentencing next month.

Hayden was indicted in November 2014 after an FBI investigation. He was accused of exchanging sex acts with the inmate on Oct. 9, 2013, and in return, allowing her to escape. She was not named in court documents or in court.

In a pending federal civil lawsuit against Hayden and Ferguson, the woman says that she was pregnant, and that Hayden forced her into a sex act after her boyfriend paid her bail and after Hayden said she still had traffic warrants from other municipalities.

The lawsuit claims Hayden took her out of her cell and into a boiler room, where he told her to give him oral sex. The woman took several of his pubic hairs and gave them to police, the suit says.

She had been pulled over by police for having an expired license plate, then gave the officer a false name, the suit says.

Attorneys for Ferguson have denied the lawsuit’s claims.

The civil suit has been on hold while Hayden’s criminal case was pending.

Bevis Schock, one of the woman’s attorneys, said Friday: “The whole thing reflects poorly on law enforcement, and we look forward to better supervision of people in law enforcement because one percent to two percent cause unbelievably bad problems.”

Hayden started as a correctional officer on May 25, 2012, and was terminated on Nov. 19, 2013.

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