Sean Morrissey: Former corrections officer, 51, pleads guilty to sexually abusing female inmate

Sean Morrissey: Former corrections officer, 51, pleads guilty to sexually abusing female inmate
Former jail guard Sean Morrissey faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a fine of up to $250K for sexually abusing a female inmate (Rensselaer County Correctional Facility)

Trigger warning: The article contains information about sexual assault that could be traumatic to some readers. Discretion is advised.

RENSSELAER, NEW YORK: Sean Morrissey, 51, of Waterford pleaded guilty on Tuesday, October 4, 2022, to sexually abusing a female inmate in September 2018, according to the US Department of Justice. Morrissey was a correctional officer at the Rensselaer County Correctional Facility at the time of the crime. His plea was accepted by US District Judge Glenn T Suddaby of the Northern District of New York.

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According to the DOJ, Morrissey admitted that between September 7, 2018, and September 21, 2018, while he was a corrections officer at Rensselaer County Correctional Facility, he knowingly rubbed the genitalia of a female federal inmate, with the intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of a person. Rensselaer County is immediately east of the state capital of Albany, New York.

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Morrissey was arraigned on June 16, 2022, on one count of sexual abuse of a ward in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2244(a)(4). The indictment lists the victim only by the initials AM, a “female federal inmate housed at the RCCF by direction of and pursuant to a contract and agreement with the United States Marshals Service.” 

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According to Law & Crime, court records indicate Morrissey pleaded guilty without a written plea agreement on file. However, an offer of proof and a factual recitation of the government’s case was filed. It notes the following background facts which would have indicated AM’s status as a federal detainee to anyone guarding the local jail where she was detained. "On February 23, 2018, AM was charged with a felony by federal criminal complaint in the US District Court for the Northern District Court, arrested, and detained pending trial by order dated March 9, 2018. Pursuant to that order and the agreement between the USMS and the RCCF, AM was detained at the RCCF from March 9 through September 30, 2018. AM was housed in the female unit, N-2, at the RCCF. As a federal inmate, AM wore a green wristband; local inmates wore clear or white wristbands, and parole inmates wore blue or purple wristbands. The defendant worked in the N-2 unit, spoke at length with AM, and was aware of her status as a federal inmate. On September 7, 14, 20, and 18, 2018, the defendant was the sole correctional officer assigned to the N-2 unit from 3:30 pm to 11:30 pm. As a correctional officer, the defendant had custodial, supervisory, and disciplinary authority over AM and the other inmates in the N-2 unit." 

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A surveillance video apparently caught Morrissey in the act. "As the defendant was aware, except for the interiors of the laundry room and the showers, video cameras recorded the N-2 unit. Recordings from the cameras in the N-2 unit reveal that the defendant and AM were alone together in the laundry room for approximately 1 minute and 8 seconds starting at approximately 11 pm on September 7, 2018; were alone together in the showers for approximately 52 second starting at approximately 10:57 p.m. on September 14, 2018; were alone together in the laundry room for approximately 1 minute and 52 second starting at approximately 11:00 pm on September 20, 2018; and were alone together in the showers for approximately 2 minutes and 40 seconds starting at approximately 11:12 pm on September 21, 2018," the document states. 

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The victim and the defendant then confessed and explained the act that took place during those recordings. The document asserts, "In speaking with law enforcement, AM stated that the defendant touched her breasts and genitals, both through and beneath her clothing, in the laundry room and showers on September 7, 14, 20, and 18, 2018. On September 25, 2018, the defendant spoke with an investigator with the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office about his interactions with AM at the RCCF. During the conversation, which was recorded, the defendant admitted to kissing AM and rubbing her vagina over her underwear. When the investigator described the defendant’s contact with AM as “putting your hand inside the clothes and, and, ah, rubbing the vagina and then just kissing her and stuff,” the defendant responded, 'It’s still wrong,' followed by, 'I f**ked up.'" 

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Morrissey was released from custody after his arrest but before his plea, according to other court records. He was allowed to earn a living driving a truck and was monitored by pretrial services staffers by telephone.  A court entry dated July 25, 2022, explains, "The issue regarding the difficulty of supervising Mr. Morrissey is discussed. The AUSA sets forth the government’s position. The Court agrees that Mr Morrissey can be monitored via telephone and is directed to notify pretrial services of his truck route as soon as he receives it, maintain telephone contact with the supervising officer as directed, and to have his cell phone accessible at all times. There is no objection by def[endan]t. Pretrial services advises the Court that they will seek to make home visits or have def[endan]t report as they see those opportunities in Mr Morrissey’s work schedule. All parties are in agreement to the release conditions." 

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Sentencing for Morrissey is scheduled in Albany on February 23, 2023. He faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and must serve up to one year of supervised release once he is out of prison. 

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