Kansas City Inmate Escapes Jail Cell After Guard Leaves Keys Behind, Sexually Assaults Female Inmate: Authorities

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A prison cell is seen in this file photo. (Credit: Neil Bird/Flickr via Creative Commons)

A prison cell is seen in this file photo. (Credit: Neil Bird/Flickr via Creative Commons)

A man being held on a first-degree murder charge got out of his cell at a Kansas City jail and roamed the hallways for nearly two hours before sexually assaulting a female inmate, according to a criminal complaint obtained by CNN.

On Aug. 24, a guard mistakenly left a set of keys in a door lock at the Jackson County Detention Center, according to court documents filed Wednesday. The guard told police she believed all the keys were accounted for when she retrieved them, the complaint said.

Surveillance video obtained by detectives and quoted in the complaint showed an unnamed inmate who obtained one of the keys letting himself out of his cell, along with Dontae D. Jefferson and another unnamed inmate, on Aug. 26.

The video showed Jefferson and the other inmates wandering the halls of the jail between 2:40 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. Jefferson entered a female inmate’s cell and sexually assaulted her, according to the victim’s statement to police quoted in the criminal complaint.

Jefferson returned to his cell after hearing a whistle in the hallway, the complaint said. The victim identified him from a photo lineup on August 27, according to the complaint.

Jefferson, 29, of Kansas City, was charged with first-degree rape, first-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, said the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office.

“My life and the lives of my family have been in turmoil since the events of last week,” the victim said in a statement released by the prosecutor’s office. “We are struggling to move forward. I am praying those responsible will be held to a measure of justice.”

The county hired former US Attorney Todd Graves to conduct an independent investigation.

“Those responsible will be held accountable and all other necessary changes will be made swiftly,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James and Jackson County Executive Frank White said in a joint statement.

Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte also called for an investigation and ordered the removal of all female inmates from the detention center.

“We are alarmed at this incident and concerned about the safety of city inmates and detainees held in the Jackson County jail,” he said.

Schulte’s office said the city contracted with Jackson County to house inmates for seven years for more than $5 million a year.

One jail guard was suspended without pay pending the outcome of Graves’ investigation, the county Department of Corrections told CNN.