Sedgwick County Sheriff Turned In By Deputy For Alleged Sexual Assault On Developmentally Challenged Inmate

A Sedgwick County sheriff in Sterling, Colorado, is being accused of sexually assaulting a developmentally challenged inmate after one of his deputies noticed suspicious behavior and reported it on August 10. According to KDVR, Deputy Larry Neugebauer got suspicious when he noticed that the 43-year-old sheriff showed up at the sheriff’s office to transport a female prisoner to the Logan County Jail in his personal vehicle — which is a violation of department code — saying that he was on his way to Denver and that the jail was on the way. Neugebauer’s suspicions turned into concern when he noticed Thomas Hanna’s white pickup and his company vehicle parked outside his Julesburg home at a time when he should have been transporting the inmate.

The female prisoner, who appeared to be timid and childlike in her ability to comprehend things, was questioned and was so upset she threw up. She said that he took her to his home — another department policy violation — sat her on the couch, and told her that he wanted additional information about a drug case. He then allegedly asked her if she wanted to make $60 and said he just wanted to have sex. The woman claims he ordered her to strip and asked her to touch him, to which she said no, and then penetrated her with his fingers.

Afterward, he allegedly told her he wasn’t going to give her money “for nothing” but gave her a pad because she was menstruating. He allegedly then told her, “this has to stay between us, if it don’t, I’m gonna take you to prison for the rest of your life.”

The victim drew diagrams of the outside and inside of his home and investigators found photos and text from her on Hanna’s cell phone, in addition to pads and tampons in his home. According to investigator Jeff Huston who wrote the arrest affidavit, Thomas Hanna admits that taking the inmate to his home was a big mistake, but denies sexually assaulting her. According to KDVR, Huston doesn’t believe the woman is smart enough to make the story up.

The inmate, who said she felt violated, raped, and scared, said that she has a low IQ because she was malnourished as a child, according to 9 News. When he returned her to the jail, he put $20 into her inmate account, saying that he did so because he had a “big heart”.

“I felt like I was raped, to be honest, and this has bothered me a lot and it feels good to get it out because I’m telling the truth,” she said, according to the affidavit.

Court records show Thomas Hanna faces charges of sexual conduct in a correctional institute, sexual assault on an at-risk adult, soliciting prostitution, and official misconduct. He was being held at the Logan County jail but was transferred to Weld County for his safety.

Thomas Hanna was elected sheriff in November 2014. He was advised by a judge of the four criminal charges against him, two of which are felonies. According to KMGH, he has contested all of the charges and has refused to take a polygraph. He implied during the hearing that he couldn’t afford the $500,000 bond because his money is tied up in a divorce.

“Any small amount of money that I have is currently tied up in a divorce, I don’t have access to much for bond. I certainly haven’t been a menace to the community. When I was arrested, I was arrested in uniform, in full duty gear and went willingly and peacefully, even though I contest every single one of the charges.”

The bond was then reduced to $250,000, and if he makes bond, he has to wear a monitor and stay away from the victim and any witnesses in the case. He must also stay more than 100 yards away from the Sedgwick County Courthouse.

Brittny Lewton, the district attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit, has recused herself from the case. Lewton was allowed to appoint a special prosecutor, George Brauchler from the 18th Judicial District, and Assistant District Attorney Mark Hurlbert — who unsuccessfully tried to prosecute Kobe Bryant during his 2003 rape trial — is also involved in the investigation.

“I really felt that it was best for the both the defendant and the public that a completely unbiased person or agency be the one that handles it.”

Lewton also indicated that she would be looking into his other cases as a result of the allegations.

[Image via Logan County Sheriff’s Office]