Sheriff's son pleads guilty to jail sex, sentenced to probation

(WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ind.) -- The 29-year-old son of the Washington County sheriff has pleaded guilty to a charge that he had sex with a female jail inmate while working there.

Jason T. Combs, of Campbellsburg, was sentenced Thursday to a year and a half of probation for the offense, which involved three incidents on the night of Nov. 30, 1999, and early the next day, state police said.

Combs, a former confinement officer at the jail, is the son of Sheriff Claude Combs, whose office oversees the jail.

After a three-month investigation, Jason Combs was charged in May with two felony counts of sexual misconduct by a service provider. He also was charged with misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure and official misconduct.

Combs pleaded guilty to one of the felony counts, and the other charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

A year after his probation ends, he can apply for his conviction to be modified from a felony to a misdemeanor. Washington Circuit Court Judge Robert Bennett also ruled that Combs have no contact with the former inmate.

According to court documents, Combs entered the women's cell block with two male inmates and moved a surveillance camera. He then allowed the men to have sex with two female inmates, witnesses told police.

Combs later returned to the cell block twice to have sex with a female inmate, the documents said.

Sheriff Combs said yesterday that he didn't attend the hearing at which his son pleaded guilty, and he declined comment on the sentence. A special prosecutor from Harrison County was assigned to the case.

''I've stayed totally and completely out of it,'' Combs said.

His son, who was hired in February 1999, was fired April 1, he said.

''What he'd done is a violation of jail rules and policy,'' the sheriff said. ''We didn't need to change our rules, we just needed to discipline him. ''

Since his son's dismissal, the jail has changed its security procedures, Combs said.

When the jail was built, one key opened every cell door. Now there is a separate key for the women's cells held only by the matron on duty.

(iSyndicate; The Courier-Journal; Nov. 11, 2000). Terms and Conditions: Copyright(c) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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