Judge reconsidering plea of ex-detentions deputy who engaged in sex acts with Lerdo inmates

Crime Watch

Brandon Lawrence would spend no time in custody under the current plea.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Following remarks by a prosecutor who called the case “extremely disturbing,” a Kern County judge said he needed more time to decide whether to accept a plea by a former detentions deputy who had sexual encounters with multiple inmates.

Brandon Lawrence would have received two years’ probation and no time in custody if his sentencing had gone forward Tuesday.

But Judge Eric Bradshaw told attorneys he was considering rejecting the plea after Assistant District Attorney Andrea Kohler stressed the imbalance of power between Lawrence and the women under his supervision at Lerdo Jail.

As inmates, these women were supposed to follow Lawrence’s directions, and he abused his power by asking for sexual favors, Kohler said.

“This crime is extremely disturbing,” she said. “It is, again, I believe a gross imbalance of power… .”

Lawrence’s defense attorney, Gabriel Godinez, argued the former deputy has lost his career and been the subject of public ridicule. He noted the presence of a TV camera in the courtroom.

Godinez also said Lawrence will be a convicted felon, something that will follow him the rest of his life. He said justice is served under the current plea.

Bradshaw set a hearing for Dec. 7, at which time he’ll reveal his decision.

Lawrence claimed the sexual 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 circumstance. The ex-deputy, 21 at the time of his arrest in May, admitted to engaging in sex acts in storage rooms and offices.

Some of the women told investigators they felt pressured into going along with the acts because of Lawrence’s position as a deputy.

An investigation began in February after a woman reported her cellmate was having sex with a deputy, according to sheriff’s officials.

In October Lawrence made an open plea — pleading no contest to every charge filed against him with the hope gives him a lesser sentence that what prosecutors recommend. He pleaded no contest to three counts of sexual activity with an inmate and one count of attempted sexual activity with an inmate.

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