A former Federal Bureau of Prisons correctional officer and drug treatment counselor has been sentenced to serve 80 months — or about six and a half years — behind bars after pleading guilty to a list of sexual abuse charges involving four different female inmates, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday. Hosea Lee Jr., 43, must also serve 10 years of supervised release after he’s out of prison, the DOJ added.
Federal court documents say Lee plied the inmates with “cigarettes, alcohol, suboxone, and other contraband” — including “items as seemingly innocent as Kool-aid” — to “entice them to engage in or conceal his sexual abuse.” He also used “force and threat” to commit some of his many offenses, prosecutors added in a sentencing memorandum.
Lee even tried “to conceal his crimes” by “having bottled water on hand for his victims to ensure they swallowed his semen after he ejaculated in their mouths in his office,” prosecutors told a judge.
The defendant “indulged in a rouse” that he and his victims “were somehow romantically involved and that relationship was monogamous,” prosecutors added. That, they suggested, was a flat-out lie given the number of victims they identified as having been abused between August and December in 2019.
Prosecutors even said Lee boasted of committing other (and apparently uncharged) acts of abuse at previous prison facilities after scouting for and avoiding prison cameras.
According to an amended plea agreement, Lee pleaded guilty to counts 3, 5, 6, 10, and 11 of an indictment filed in July 2021. Those five counts all alleged the sexual abuse of a ward in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2243(b).
Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the rest of the indictment, which originally totaled 14 counts. The original charges also included accusations that Lee deprived the inmates’ rights under the color of law, committed aggravated sexual abuse by force or threat, and engaged in abusive sexual contact. The original indictment further accused Lee of one additional count for allegedly providing alcohol, lighters, cigarettes, the drug Suboxone, and other contraband to three of the women under his watch.
Lee worked as a correctional officer and drug treatment specialist at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, the indictment alleged.
“In that position, Lee was responsible for conducting interviews regarding treatment eligibility and progress, leading drug education classes and providing group and individual counseling to inmates with substance use disorder,” prosecutors said in a post-sentencing press release. “Between August and December 2019, on several occasions, Lee engaged in sexual acts with four separate women. Each of these victims was a participant in his drug treatment classes. These sexual acts all occurred in secluded spaces adjacent to the classroom or a closet area in his office.”
Lee’s job “gave him virtually unfettered access to them and their complete histories, emotionally, physically, and psychologically, that regular Officers simply do not have,” prosecutors wrote while arguing that Lee deserved a tougher sentence. In other words, the feds suggested that Lee knew and exploited the inmates’ pressure points.
Lee pleaded guilty in April 2022, the DOJ said.
A defense sentencing memorandum noted that Lee was a military veteran who previously suffered a head injury. The defense also cited “several traumatic events” and “stress in general” from the defendant’s deployment to Iraq. It also said Lee “has PTSD, Chronic Depression, Anxiety and Insomnia.”
Lee’s attorneys did not ask for a specific sentence.
Federal prosecutors, however, sought — and received — the ultimate 80-month term. That sentence was an “upward departure” from the usual sentencing guidelines for the offenses to which Lee pleaded guilty but was far from the maximum possible sentence of 15 years on the charges to which Lee pleaded guilty.
Prosecutors noted in their own memo that all of Lee’s “victims were female inmates in the Atwood Camp at FMC Lexington,” but they added that Lee also “attempted to groom” an individual “who reported his misconduct initially.”
“Congress criminalized even possible consensual sex with adult wards,” prosecutors continued while discussing the underlying law at play. “That’s why the element of consent need not be proven: Congress determined there can be no situation where a ward freely consents to a sexual act with an officer.”
A recurring theme in the government’s sentencing memorandum was a concern that the available sentencing guidelines didn’t take into account the full scope of the facts alleged against the defendant.
Without the plea agreement, Lee would have been eligible for a possible life sentence if he had been convicted as charged, the original indictment indicates.
The ultimate 80-month sentence resulted in a litany of harsh comments from all levels within the Justice Department.
“The defendant’s abhorrent sexual misconduct betrays the trust we place in our correctional officers to protect those in their custody and to prepare them to return to society,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said in a press release. “As part of our ongoing effort to root out sexual misconduct within the Bureau of Prisons, the department has prioritized prosecuting cases of criminal misconduct by Bureau employees. We will continue to hold accountable those who violate their position of trust.”
“This defendant abused his authority and the public trust by preying sexually upon women entrusted to his care,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This betrayal of trust by a federal official is intolerable and the Department of Justice hopes that this prosecution brings some much-needed closure to his victims.”
“The safety and security of federal prisons are of the utmost importance, and correctional officers who abuse their authority undermine the integrity of these institutions,” said Department of Justice Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz. “Inmates should never experience sexual abuse at the hands of the Bureau of Prisons employees, and the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General will continue to aggressively investigate allegations of abuse, including sexual abuse, across the BOP.”
“Instead of helping those in his custody and care with their substance use, the defendant preyed on particularly vulnerable individuals and betrayed an important public charge,” said U.S. Attorney Carlton S. Shier IV for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “This despicable conduct has done enduring damage to his victims. Beyond that, when public officials act with such disregard for those in their care and protection, it erodes faith in law enforcement. We will continue our efforts to protect these individuals, and to combat abuses by those who fail to warrant the public trust.”
“Part of the FBI’s critical mission is to protect the American people. This includes those who are currently serving time in prison,” said Special Agent in Charge Jodi Cohen of the FBI’s Louisville Field Office. “When corrections officers who have sworn to protect inmates within their facility abuse their position of authority, the FBI will stop at nothing to hold them accountable. Because investigating civil rights violations remains a top priority for the FBI in Kentucky, if you have knowledge of similar crimes occurring within our correctional facilities, contact your local FBI field office or submit information to tips.fbi.gov.”
Victim impact statements were all filed under seal, according to the court docket. While the defendant was sentenced Friday afternoon, restitution remains unresolved; a hearing about that issue is scheduled for Sept. 16, 2022, at 3:00 p.m.
Read the original indictment here:
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