Former corrections officer sentenced for four sex crimes

Gray to serve 20 months in prison

John Russell Gray.

John Russell Gray.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story erroneously said Gray’s criminal history includes five driving-under-the-influence guilty pleas between 1994-2006. The Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said the incorrect information was contained in a state Department of Corrections pre-sentence report that included the criminal history of a John M. Gray. John R. Gray’s criminal history was corrected by court order Wednesday and is corrected in this story.

PORT ANGELES — A former longtime corrections officer has been sentenced to one year and eight months in prison for committing four sex offenses — both felony and gross misdemeanor — with four female inmates while he was employed at the Forks jail.

Forks resident John Russell Gray, 52 — who received the 20-month sentence Monday in Clallam County Superior Court — worked at the jail and was on call at Clallam Bay Corrections Center when, according to court records, he had sexual intercourse or other sexual contact with the women between June 13 and Oct. 3, 2019.

He sexually assaulted the women, then paid their bail, according to court records.

Gray had pleaded guilty Dec. 15 to two counts of felony first-degree custodial sexual misconduct and two counts of gross misdemeanor second-degree custodial sexual misconduct.

He will be required to register as a sex offender.

An additional single count of first-degree custodial sexual misconduct he allegedly perpetrated against one of the women, whom Gray molested while transporting her from Mason County to Forks, was dismissed.

The woman, who was present over Zoom for Gray’s sentencing, said “no, thank you,” quietly when asked to make a statement, but had Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin read the funeral poem, “The Dash,” by Linda Ellis (thedashpoem.com).

Pondering the time between birth and death, Ellis ends with the line, “So when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?”

Gray made a brief statement about the case.

“I appreciate you guys’ time and patience with it,” he said.

“I’m very sorry.”

Without addressing Gray, Judge Lauren Erickson followed the sentencing recommendation contained in the plea agreement.

Gray was not interviewed for the pre-sentence report, which he responded to in writing.

“When asked about his current situation, Mr. Gray indicates that he wished he never took the job with Forks City Corrections,” the pre-sentence report said.

“Factors which require attention to reduce Mr. Gray’s risk to re-offend include his sexual deviancy,” concluded the risk assessment, completed during the pre-sentence investigation.

The plea agreement was negotiated by Spokane Lawyer Joe Kuhlman and Devlin.

Kuhlman said his legal fees to represent Gray were covered by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Devlin pointed to Gray’s reference in the pre-sentence report to the Forks city jail “as if Forks city corrections caused him to assault four different women” and said it showed a lack of remorse.

“This is four different women on four different occasions when he had this position of authority over them,” she said.

“He took their vulnerability and he exploited it to the furthest that you could ever exploit it.”

Kuhlman said Gray’s comment about wishing he had never worked at the jail happened during a conversation Kuhlman was having with Gray about evidentiary issues in the case.

Kuhlman was discussing with Gray the “antiquated” system at the jail in which one corrections officer was on duty at a time, “which puts us in a bind evidence-wise and testimonially, where we’re simply confronting another person’s testimony with your own,” Kuhlman told Erickson.

“Regardless, my client is here to take responsibility for these crimes.”

Gray was fired from the jail job Nov. 18, 2019, six weeks after the last sexual assault, for making inappropriate comments to female inmates, Police Chief Mike Rowley said in an earlier interview.

In April 2020, Gray returned to full-time status at the prison, where he had worked since 1997.

He was arrested at the prison on the sex offense charges May 25, 2020, and was placed on unpaid administrative leave.

Gray was fired from the $62,820-a-year CBCC job on Jan. 16. According to the pre-sentence investigation, he left prior places of employment after being accused of misconduct.

He was convicted in 1989 for hit and run attended vehicle.

Gray was disciplined at CBCC in January 2017 for misconduct for using ethnic and homophobic slurs against CBCC co-workers. He defended himself by saying he was “just trying to have fun” and, according to one employee, told the person to get on the “Trump train,” according to prison records.

“He describes himself as friendly, but reserved, and quiet but extrovert[ed] with friends,” the pre-sentence report said.

Until Tuesday, Gray, who is married and has two adult children, had been out of jail on $50,000 bail that he had posted July 24.

________

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

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