Initially accused of sexually assaulting an inmate, a former corrections officer with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Federal Correctional Institution in Petersburg, Virginia, was recently sentenced to 54 months in prison for willfully making false statements to federal agents during a federal criminal civil rights investigation.
On May 10, 2018, corrections officer Chikosi Legins escorted an inmate identified only as “B.L.” into an unmonitored, unstaffed office area of the prison after staff in the office had left for the day. According to court documents, Legins knew the room would be unoccupied and did not have any surveillance cameras.
Accused of one count of depriving B.L. of his civil rights, one count of aggravated sexual assault, and two counts of sexual abuse of a ward, Legins was eventually acquitted of those charges by a federal jury. But on February 12, the jury convicted Legins of willfully making materially false statements to federal investigators during their investigation of allegations that Legins had sexually assaulted a prisoner, B.L., on two occasions.
Instead of admitting to the affair, Legins falsely reported that he and B.L were merely having a conversation in the office while attempting to use the computer and printer. Testimony from a BOP computer technician confirmed that the computer in the office had not been accessed during that time and had not even been logged into despite Legins’ assertion that they accessed the computer.
Although the jury determined that the sexual acts between Legins and the inmate was consensual, they found that the former corrections officer lied at least twice when questioned by federal investigators about the incident. Evidence presented at trial included the testimony of a DNA expert, who testified that DNA matching Legins had been recovered from the victim and from the victim’s clothing.
“The Department of Justice will ensure that those who willfully mislead officers to prevent justice for victims of civil rights violations are prosecuted,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in a recent press release.
“Legins abused the power and authority of his office to mislead law enforcement,” stated G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “When confronted by federal agents about alleged abuses, he lied – repeatedly and emphatically. His abuse and obstruction were a complete rejection of his law enforcement oath, and this prosecution and today’s sentence demonstrate our commitment to protecting all members of our society.”
“Legins lied to investigators in an attempt to cover up the truth. Today, justice is served. He will rightly serve time for his willful attempt to impede a civil rights investigation,” Russell Cunningham, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Washington Field Office asserted on Tuesday.
Convicted on two counts of making false statements to federal investigators, Legins was sentenced to 54 months in prison.