BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A former detentions deputy who admitted to engaging in sex acts with multiple women inmates at Lerdo Jail said low staffing levels at the facility contributed to his behavior, court documents say.
Brandon Lawrence, 21, told detectives the sex acts, which he said were consensual, never would have happened if he had been assigned a partner, according to the filings. He said he’s not a bad person and he wished he had lived up to the standards of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office
Asked if he had a message he wanted to share with other jail employees, Lawrence said, “Don’t be stupid,” the documents say.
Under state law, it is illegal for an officer working in a detention facility to engage in a sex act with an inmate, even if the act is alleged to have been consensual.
Lawrence is charged with four felonies: Three counts of sexual activity with an inmate and one count of attempted sexual activity with an inmate. He is free on $40,000 bail and has a hearing scheduled Tuesday.
Lawrence admitted to sexual contact with three inmates, according to the documents. Some of the encounters took place in storage rooms, others in offices at the Lerdo Pre-Trial Facility, he said. They happened in late 2020 and earlier this year.
He denied the allegations of a fourth woman, but her story matched accounts provided by the other women.
The fourth woman woman told investigators she was assigned as an “inmate laborer” whose duties primarily involved cleaning the facility. Other work assignments given to inmate laborers include laundry and painting.
She said a male detentions deputy she identified as Lawrence told her to follow him to a janitor’s closet to dump mop water.
After she dumped the dirty water, Lawrence grabbed her and asked if she wanted to “link up,” she told detectives. She told him no and Lawrence pulled her closer.
The woman told detectives she wanted to “sock him” but was afraid of the repercussions she’d face for hitting a detentions deputy.
She said Lawrence asked her to remove her face mask but she refused, according to the documents. She said they did not kiss and nothing else happened.
Another woman interviewed by investigators first said nothing inappropriate occurred between her and a detentions deputy at the facility. Detectives told her they had heard differently. They assured her she wasn’t in trouble.
The woman began crying and described an encounter with Lawrence that happened inside a storage closet after he instructed her to put away a mop bucket, the documents say.
Lawrence removed her face mask and kissed her, she told detectives. He initiated a sex act with her, she said.
The detectives asked if she had been scared.
“Yeah, I just didn’t know what to do,” she said according to the documents.
She told detectives Lawrence didn’t physically force her to perform the act, but she felt like she didn’t have a choice. She said she was disgusted by what happened.
When initially questioned, Lawrence denied behaving inappropriately with inmates.
Detectives conducted more interviews and gathered additional evidence, including surveillance footage and jail records. Some of the footage showed Lawrence went inside a storage closet with an inmate for nearly three minutes, according to the filings. There was no camera showing the inside of the closet.
Investigators discovered Lawrence had a fake Facebook account which he used to send messages to inmates, the filings say. They found he used a law enforcement database to look up women inmates when he had no legitimate reason to do so.
In a followup interview April 6, detectives confronted Lawrence with their findings. They told him they knew he engaged in sex acts with inmates and to tell them the truth.
Lawrence admitted to the sex acts and described them and where they occurred, the filings say.
He told the detectives he was sorry for what happened. During the interview, he wrote apologies to the women on a piece of paper and gave it to the detectives.
There were three separate apologies — one for each inmate he admitted to engaging in sex acts with — and each had a similar message, the filings say.
One said, “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.”