Warden demoted amid prison sex scandal

From: Springfield News-Sun
By Tom Beyerlein and Laura A. Bischoff
Aug. 4, 2012

Ohio prison officials won’t say why they demoted Lebanon Correctional Institution Warden Timothy Brunsman and replaced him last week with a former state prisons chief.

Brunsman received a glowing job review last September, but was criticized by prison investigators earlier this year for his “wholly inadequate” response to the disciplinary case of prison health care administrator Amy Weiss, who engaged in wildly inappropriate sexually related conduct and was eventually fired, according to documents obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

Brunsman, the warden since November 2007, suddenly left the prison in mid-July for an “interim” desk job at the Corrections central office. He starts work Aug. 12 as the warden’s assistant at Madison Correctional Institution, taking a pay cut. He was replaced in Lebanon Monday by Ernie Moore, who was prisons director in 2010 under former Gov. Ted Strickland.

“Director (Gary) Mohr felt that it was time for a leadership change,” said JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. “Beyond that, I will not go into any specific matters regarding (Brunsman’s) operation of the facility.”

Under Brunsman’s watch, Lebanon Correctional, known as LeCI, had a spate of personnel problems involving sexual misconduct by staff.

• Weiss was fired in April after an investigation found she habitually made raunchy comments in front of staff and inmates and was such a mean boss that she contributed to a nursing shortage. Investigators criticized Brunsman for a lackadaisical response to Weiss’s behavior after he learned about it a year ago, even though she had previously been suspended for groping an officer during a pat-down.

• Amy Noll, LeCI’s sex offender treatment program director, resigned in January 2011 after she was confronted with hidden-camera evidence showing her kissing and being fondled by an inmate in her office, according to a prison investigation report. She wasn’t criminally charged because the contact, interrupted by investigators, “didn’t rise to the level of a felony sexual battery offense,” said Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell.

• Iona Diane Cowan, a case manager, quit in June 2009 after she too was caught having sexual contact with an inmate. Cowan made admissions to state troopers who investigated. She was convicted of sexual battery, served some jail time, and is now a registered sex offender, records show.

Additionally, prison officials in August 2011 hired Dr. Timothy Heyd as LeCI’s chief medical officer, knowing that the Ohio Medical Board suspended his medical license from 2008-2010 for having sex with patients and perjuring himself to cover it up, Smith acknowledged. She said Heyd, a former Alter High School sports team physician, has been a good employee. Heyd was a witness against Weiss in the internal investigation.

“The culture seems out of control and culture starts at the top,” said David Singleton, director of the nonprofit Ohio Justice & Policy Center, a Cincinnati law office focused on justice-system reform. “It’s very important to have a leader who creates an atmosphere of professionalism. I’m not attacking the former warden, but it seems like he lost his grip on it. The sexual stuff is just off the chain.”

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