5 indicted in Grainger jail misdeeds

5 indicted in Grainger jail misdeeds

January 12th, 2014 by The Knoxville News Sentinel in Local Regional News

The son of Grainger County Sheriff Scott Layel was one of five former sheriff's office employees indicted by a Grainger County grand jury recently.

Jacob Scott Layel was indicted on charges of official misconduct and theft of less than $500, according to a news release from 4th Judicial District Attorney Jimmy Dunn.

Dunn said the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was brought in after the Nov. 8 jailbreak of three inmates. It was during that investigation that authorities "found other things were going on," he said.

"All these cases are linked in some fashion," he said. "One thing led to another and more interviews were conducted and more things were discovered that really needed our attention. The investigation is very detailed and is still ongoing."

According to a news release from Dunn, a Grainger County grand jury indicted four former jailers and a current patrol deputy.

In addition to Layel, those arrested were:

• Michael Alton Sane on three counts of bribery, three counts of permitting or facilitating escape, six counts of official misconduct and one count of accessory after the fact;

• Joshua Cory Bumgardner, official oppression and official misconduct;

• Jessie Cummings, two counts of sexual contact with an inmate, three counts of official misconduct and official oppression;

• Tyler Matthew Farrow, introduction of contraband and official misconduct.

According to the TBI, the five men were being held at the Grainger County Detention Facility. Layel, Bumgardner and Farrow were being held on $10,000 bonds, while Sane and Cummings were being held on $50,000 bonds.

Layel was a patrol deputy. Sane, Bumgardner, Cummings and Farrow were jailers.

Layel is accused of stealing cash during a cell search for contraband.

The TBI said Sane allowed inmates to leave the jail by opening the outside door. The inmates would then scale the outside fence to pick up contraband that they would bring back inside the jail to sell to other inmates. He also accepted bribes from inmates, officials said.

Bumgardner was found to have intentionally allowed a female inmate to indecently expose herself to him, according to the TBI, while Farrow was indicted on a charge of having knowledge of inmates with contraband and refraining from performing his duties by law. Cummings is accused of having sexual contact with female inmates, the TBI said.

Neither Grainger County Sheriff Scott Layel nor Chief Deputy Charles Biddle could be reached for comment Thursday.

Rape allegations

Morristown attorney Troy Bowlin is representing three former female inmates who say they were raped by Cummings.

On Wednesday, Bowlin filed a $100 million lawsuit in Grainger County Circuit Court alleging that Cummings had sex with his clients.

Bowlin on Thursday told the News Sentinel that two jail employees who were not indicted Wednesday were supervisors who allowed the rapes to occur and have since quit.

Also named in the lawsuit were Grainger County, Sheriff Layel, Chief Deputy Biddle, Bobby Owens and Brad Johnson.

Bowlin said his office's investigation revealed that the rapes involving Cummings occurred throughout the jail.

"These rapes occurred in blind spots throughout the jail, hence the negligence in supervision and training on the part of Grainger County in allowing the jail to have not just one or two blind spots, but blind spots throughout the whole jail," he said. "Had there been proper security cameras, rest assured these incidents would have been prevented or caught and reviewed by someone not part of conspiracy to rape these girls."

The attorney said one of the women contacted him after the Nov. 8 escape to ask for help. During the investigation of her allegations, the two other women contacted him, Bowlin said.

The indictments were the culmination of a TBI investigation that started after the escape of the three inmates awaiting trial on violation of probation charges. Dennis Rucker, 35, and Shane Farrow, 30, both of Grainger County, and David Valentine, 33, Cocke County, went through an open door into an outside recreation area, climbed one another's shoulders to scale an 18-foot wall before they jumped down, climbed a fence and ran from the facility. They were later captured and taken to the Jefferson County Detention Facility.

Contact Lance Coleman at colemanl@knoxnews.com or 865-342-6376.