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'I'm scared of being raped in that jail': Officer fired after inmates claim culture of sexual abuse

After the death of 28-year-old Jorden Simms in police custody, six current and former female inmates have gone on the record about alleged abuse.

SAFFORD, Ariz. — A Graham County Detention officer was fired last week after 12 News began investigating multiple claims of sexual misconduct at the county jail. 

The allegations include female inmates claiming officers asked for sexual favors, such as showing their breasts, in order to get out of their cell. 

“This county, this county – there is something wrong with this county,” said Andrea McNair, an inmate inside the Graham County Detention Center. 

 Six women, all former or current inmates, were willing to go on the record about the abuse they saw in the system. 

“Girls giving sexual favors,” said a former inmate who wanted to remain anonymous,  “to get out of jail, to have special treatment while they are in jail, to not go to jail.” 

“If you are not doing something for someone, you are not getting anything out of this jail,” said McKenzie Sanders, a current inmate. 

Andrea McNair said the harassment followed her even after her release from jail in January. 

“Last time I got released, I didn’t walk out of this jail 35 seconds later I was receiving a naked picture of this officer,” McNair said. 

12 News obtained the photos of a detention officer, Jorden Palmer, sending sexually inappropriate text messages, asking for nude photos and sending nudes himself.

The allegations come just months after 28-year-old Jorden Simms died in police custody. 

“Unbelievably ethically wrong, criminally wrong, civilly wrong,” Jeff Hynes, a former Phoenix police commander, said about Officer Palmer's alleged actions. "There’s going to be some incredible consequences because of this behavior.”

Documents show the sheriff's department reviewed the recorded calls from the same day 12 News spoke with Andrea and other inmates. Those records show another inmate may also have received photos from Palmer.

In emails to 12 News, The Graham County Sheriff's office revealed they terminated officer Palmer. 

The sheriff’s office has declined multiple requests for an interview.

As other inmates said the culture and allegations go beyond just one officer.

“We are scared of what might happen to them because of our friend that was in here. We don’t know how far it will go. We don’t want to lose our lives." Sanders said. 

The six women came forward after the death of 28-year-old Jorden Simms in police custody.

PREVIOUSLY: Inmate's death after allegedly jumping from patrol vehicle raises questions

“They silenced my daughter, they wanted to make sure she never came forward,” said Deborah Sanchez, Jorden Simms' mom. 

Jorden claimed she was sexually assaulted by her arresting officer. She claimed she was assaulted again within the Graham County Detention Center. 

A rape test was done, but the results have not been released to the public. 

Days after making the allegation of sexual assault, Simms died after police said she escaped ankle restraints, a belly chain and handcuffs before jumping out of the back driver side door – which happened to not have safety locks on it. 

Police said Jorden jumped out of the police cruiser to her death. 

This all happened two blocks from the hospital, where more tests on the alleged assaults were about to be carried out.

RELATED: 'They silenced my daughter': Mother claims daughter's death in police transport meant to keep quiet about rape and assault


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