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CPSO correctional officer fired for inappropriate conduct

VIDALIA — A Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office correctional officer was arrested Wednesday after investigators allege she was involved in inappropriate sexual conduct with a prison inmate.

Karen Watts, 48, of 720 Eagle Road, Vidalia, was arrested and charged with malfeasance in office and held without bond.

Chief Deputy David Hedrick said Watts worked at the Concordia Parish Work Release facility on U.S. 84 where she supervised a crew of work release inmates.

Internal investigators at the sheriff’s office became aware of the alleged inappropriate conduct after a check of the telephone systems at Concordia Parish Correctional Facility.

“We routinely check our phone systems to ensure the safety and security of our inmates,” Hedrick said. “Calls were intercepted that made our investigators suspect there was possible inappropriate behavior occurring with (Watts) and a prison inmate.”

Hedrick said the phone calls made between Watts and the inmate explicitly described the sexual acts they allegedly were conducting.

Watts was arrested Wednesday and charged with malfeasance in office. Louisiana law statues state the penalty for a malfeasance in office violation can result in five to 10 years of imprisonment.

Sheriff Kenneth Hedrick said the matter was still under investigation, but that he wanted residents to understand that he holds parish employees to high standards.

“I hold my employees to the same standards I set for myself as sheriff of the parish,” Sheriff Hedrick said. “Every employee takes an oath to obey the laws of the constitution and the laws of our state before joining our department.

“This administration will not tolerate neglect, abuse or misconduct of any kind by those appointed to serve Concordia Parish through this office.”

Hedrick said the inmate could also receive additional time added to his sentence for the misconduct, but that no charges had been made yet against the inmate.

Watts was terminated from her position. She had worked for the sheriff’s office for less than a year.

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