Ex-detentions deputy pleads no contest to sex acts with Lerdo inmates

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A former Kern County detentions deputy pleaded no contest Tuesday to engaging in sex acts with multiple inmates at Lerdo Jail.

Brandon Lawrence made an open plea, where a defendant pleads to all counts in the hopes the court gives him a lesser penalty than what prosecutors recommend.

It could not immediately be determined what Lawrence faces at his Nov. 23 sentencing hearing.

Lawrence claimed the encounters were consensual, according to court filings, but it’s illegal for an officer working in a detention facility to engage in a sex act with an inmate under any circumstances. The ex-deputy, 21 at the time of his arrest, admitted to engaging in sex acts in storage rooms and offices at the Lerdo Pre-Trial Facility.

The women told investigators they felt pressured into going along with what Lawrence wanted because of his position as a deputy.

One woman said she felt like she didn’t have a choice and was disgusted by what happened, according to the filings. Another said she wanted to hit Lawrence but feared the repercussions.

Lawrence wrote apologies for the acts which took place in late 2020 and earlier this year, according to the filings.

“I want to say I’m sorry for everything. I am a much better officer and person. I hope you have a great life. — Lawrence,” one read.

An investigation began Feb. 3 after an inmate reported her cellmate was having sex a detentions deputy.

Detectives interviewed inmates and gathered evidence including surveillance footage and jail records. One piece of footage showed Lawrence and an inmate enter a storage closet, where they stayed for nearly three minutes, according to court filings. There was no camera inside the closet.

Investigators discovered Lawrence created a fake Facebook account to send messages to inmates, the filings say. They also found he used a law enforcement database to look up women inmates when he had no legitimate reason to do so.

Lawrence blamed low staffing at the jail for his behavior, telling investigators the acts never would have occurred if he had been assigned a partner.

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