Former corrections officer pleads guilty to sex charges

John Russell Gray accused of assaulting four female inmates

John Russell Gray

John Russell Gray

PORT ANGELES — A former Forks jail officer accused of sexually assaulting four female inmates in 2019 has pleaded guilty to custodial sexual misconduct.

John Russell Gray, 52, will be sentenced Jan. 26 in Clallam County Superior Court.

Gray, a longtime Clallam Bay Corrections Center officer who was working at both facilities in 2019, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to two counts of first-degree custodial sexual misconduct and two counts of second-degree custodial sexual misconduct.

One count of first-degree custodial sexual misconduct — and special allegations that Gray abused a position of trust to the commit the crimes — were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Gray, who is out of custody on $50,000 bail, faces a standard sentencing range of 15 to 20 months in prison, Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson said Tuesday.

Michele Devlin, Clallam County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, said the agreed sentencing recommendation is for 20 months in prison followed by three years of community custody.

Gray will be required to register as a sex offender for 10 years for the convictions, Devlin said in a Tuesday email.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said Gray sexually assaulted four women while they were inmates at the Forks jail between June 2019 and October 2019.

Gray had sexual contact with the women before paying their bails, court papers said.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Detective Joe Pursley said the assaults occurred in a back room, laundry room and library near the jail.

One victim said Gray made her perform oral sex and feared Gray might hurt her if she did not, according to the affidavit for probable cause.

Another victim said Gray molested her while driving her in an inmate transfer van from Mason County jail to the Forks jail, Pursley said.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case at the request of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.

The investigation began after a Port Angeles woman told a deputy she was afraid to be incarcerated at the Forks jail.

Gray posted a $50,000 bail bond July 27 and was placed on electronic home monitoring. He will remain on electronic home monitoring until he is sentenced.

Erickson paused the change of plea hearing Tuesday to allow Gray to speak with his attorney, Joe Kuhlman of Spokane, by telephone.

When the hearing resumed, Erickson found a factual basis for the guilty pleas and noted that Gray entered them knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily.

Kuhlman said he planned to make the 400-mile trip from Spokane to Port Angeles to attend the sentencing hearing.

“I think it would be poor form for a defense attorney not to be there for sentencing,” Kuhlman told Erickson.

“I’ll make my way over there for that.”

Erickson signed an order for Gray to have a pre-sentencing investigation by the state Department of Corrections.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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