Written by Rachel Shapiro Friday, 08 January 2010 00:00
On Dec. 30, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced the arrest of a Nassau County Corrections officer for multiple offenses related to his involvement with female inmates at the Nassau County Correctional Center (NCCC).
According to the DA’s office, Officer Mark Barber, 47, of Levittown, was arrested and arraigned on charges of rape, forcible touching and sexual abuse of female inmates. He is charged with three counts of rape – 3rd degree; 10 counts of sexual abuse – 2nd degree; three counts of forcible touching; receiving reward for official misconduct – 2nd degree; six counts of promoting prison contraband – 2nd degree; and 35 counts of official misconduct, the DA’s office said. He faces up to 16 years in prison if convicted.
“This defendant used the influence of his position to terrorize, rape, and abuse vulnerable inmates,” Rice said. “For a variety of important reasons, it’s illegal for jail staff to engage in romantic relationships with the inmates they oversee. The law does not allow these women to consent to this activity because of this vulnerable and dangerous dynamic. For a jail staff member to use his leverage to sexually abuse inmates is despicable.”
According to the findings of a joint investigation involving the DA’s Office and the NCCC Internal Affairs Unit, Barber used his position as a Grievance Officer to extort sexual favors from six female inmates who came forward.
The investigation covers a period of time from August 2007 through March 2009 and found that Barber “engaged in various ongoing, inappropriate relationships with female inmates. These relationships ranged from providing cigarettes and private phone calls to engaging in various levels of sexual activity with select inmates,” according to the DA’s office.
NY State Penal Law states that a person committed to the care and custody of a correctional facility is incapable of consent.
“These are very serious allegations,” Sheriff Officers Association (ShOA) President Michael Adams said in an interview with Anton Community Newspapers. “There’s an ongoing investigation.”
The investigation began when a female inmate came forward in March 2009 and alleged that Barber had tried to kiss her while she was assigned to work detail under his supervision.
According to the findings of the investigation, in his position as a grievance officer, Barber received complaints from female inmates about medical care and quality-of-life issues. He then interviewed inmates who filed grievances and determined what action, if any, was to be taken by the jail.
Using his position in the jail, Barber provided contraband and services to the female inmates and in return committed sexual acts with the six inmates who came forward, the DA stated.
When the investigation began in March 2009, Barber was reassigned out of the women’s section and later removed from the East Meadow facility completely, said Elizabeth Loconsolo, general council for Nassau’s sheriff’s department, in an interview with Anton Community Newspapers.
According to the DA’s office, Barber started as a corrections officer at NCCC in Dec. 1987 and became a grievance officer in Dec. 2005.
Barber was president of the Sheriff’s Support Unit of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) in 1999, as confirmed by an official at CSEA.
Attorney Fred Annibale is representing Barber and Assistant District Attorneys Karen Bennett and Andrew Garbarino of the Public Corruption Bureau are representing the DA’s office.
Barber’s bail was set at $25,000 bond or cash and, according to Loconsolo, Barber made bail and was suspended without pay; he was due back in court Jan. 4.