Charges filed against officer accused of sexual misconduct at Forks jail

John Russell Gray

John Russell Gray

PORT ANGELES — Charges were filed Friday against Clallam Bay Corrections Center Officer John Russell Gray, accused by four female inmates of sexual assault while he worked at the Forks jail for seven months in 2019.

Criminal information presented in Clallam County Superior Court alleges the 51-year-old Forks resident committed one count of felony first-degree custodial sexual misconduct and two counts of gross misdemeanor second-degree custodial sexual misconduct.

A conviction on the first-degree charge, which alleges assault by sexual intercourse, would require Gray to report to authorities as a sex offender.

A fourth sexual misconduct charge may be filed within the next week in Clallam County Superior Court or Mason County Superior Court, Michele Devlin, Clallam County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, said Friday.

One of the four women, all former inmates, alleged Gray molested her while driving her in an inmate-transport van from the Mason County jail to the Forks jail, putting his hand under her skirt, according to the probable cause statement.

Gray, a corrections officer at Clallam Bay Corrections Center for 23 years, will be arraigned at 9 a.m. Friday.

Following the alleged assaults, Gray paid the women’s bail, according to the statement.

Two of the women are recorded on phone calls saying that Gray made the payments.

In two instances, the cash was hidden in court papers, and another time, in a book, according to the statement.

An investigation of Gray began after Clallam County authorities arrested a Port Angeles woman on an outstanding Superior Court warrant, said Brian King, Clallam County Sheriff’s Office chief criminal deputy. She was afraid to go to the Forks jail because she alleged Gray had assaulted her, King said.

She said while she was in custody, Gray made her perform oral sex and that she feared “that Officer Gray might hurt her” if she did not, according to the statement.

She said she believed Gray paid her $200 bail “to keep her quiet,” according to the statement.

The assaults allegedly occurred in the vehicle, the jail library and the jail clothing room, where one victim said she saw Gray having intercourse with another victim.

Police Chief Mike Rowley said in an earlier interview that there are non-recording cameras in the clothing room and library.

Devlin said it was too early in the court proceeding to determine if the women will testify against Gray, noting they already gave statements to law enforcement.

“We are reaching out to them, and we’ll go forward from there,” she said.

Gray was employed at Clallam Bay Corrections Center (CBCC) from February 1997 through Tuesday morning, when he was arrested at the prison after his shift, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Janelle Guthrie said.

He has been placed on unpaid administrative leave from CBCC.

Forks City Attorney-Planner Rod Fleck said Friday that Gray, who is married, worked some shifts at the prison while working full-time at the jail.

Rowley fired Gray Nov. 18 during a standard yearlong probationary period, Fleck said.

Gray, hired in April, was let go after making inappropriate comments to two female inmates, saying one woman was acting like “a princess,” Fleck said, unable to recall further details.

The other incident involved medication the woman was taking, Fleck said.

“The chief said, ‘That’s it, we’re letting you go,’ ” he recalled.

Rowley was unavailable for comment Friday.

Gray told Judge Brent Basden on Friday that he could not afford to be represented by the Seattle attorney who represented him Wednesday at Gray’s first appearance.

Gray said he had not yet been able to contact Teamsters Local 117, which represents CBCC officers, about getting assistance from the union’s legal defense fund.

Basden said his appointment Friday of Port Angeles lawyer Stan Myers will be contingent on Gray filing a financial statement with the court.

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].