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Rapes Reported at Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion

OKLAHOMA CITY — Prosecutors are investigating claims that the former head chef and chief groundskeeper at the Oklahoma governor’s mansion raped three female prison inmates assigned to work on the mansion’s grounds.

Neither man has been charged, but the Department of Central Services fired both of them Sept. 29 for violating departmental policies after a three-month Department of Corrections investigation.

The alleged rapes at the Oklahoma governor’s mansion happened between March 2008 and January 2009. Two former staffers at the mansion are now under investigation.

The allegations raise questions about security at the chief executive’s residence and oversight of a program meant in part to reward good inmate behavior by allowing them leave prison for the day and work off-site.
The state Department of Corrections believes the former state workers who supervised the inmates at the governor’s mansion committed sexual battery, forcible sodomy and rape against the Hillside Community Corrections Center inmates, Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said Monday. The department recently turned its findings over to Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater’s office.

Assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland said Monday that prosecutors met with Department of Corrections investigators for two hours Friday and that the investigation is ongoing.

According to records obtained by The Associated Press through a state open records request, the fired workers are Russell Humphries, the former executive chef at the mansion, and Anthony Bobelu, the former groundskeeper supervisor.

Neither Humphries nor Bobelu has been charged, and neither responded to repeated phone messages seeking comment. No one answered the door Monday at Bobelu’s residence, and Humphries’ current address could not be determined early Monday. Neither prosecutors nor Janet Roloff, an Edmond attorney for one of the women, knew whether either man had an attorney.
The Department of Corrections is interviewing other women who took part in the program, Massie said.

The women, two of whom have since been released from prison, say the assaults happened between March 2008 and January 2009. The Department of Corrections didn’t begin investigating until June 1, after one woman came forward following her release, Massie said.

The women said the attacks occurred in a storage building outside the perimeter of the security fence that surrounds the mansion’s 14-acre grounds, Massie said. He did not say whether the women allege they were assaulted once or multiple times each.

Roloff said Monday that her client endured a “violent, bloody rape” that left her with emotional and physical scars. It’s illegal for a supervisor and an inmate to have sex, and Roloff scoffed at the notion that any sex between her client and the state workers was consensual.

“My client was dragged down, held down by one and raped by another. That doesn’t sound very consensual, does it?” she said.

Roloff said her client was afraid to report she was attacked until after her release for fear of retribution. She said her client came forward to try to persuade prison officials to stop sending female inmates to the governor’s mansion.

The allegations have raised questions about security at the mansion and oversight of the horticulture program, which was suspended after the allegations surfaced but has since resumed.

The accusation that two mansion employees were involved in rape just outside the building’s security perimeter came one month after three state troopers assigned to guard the mansion were disciplined for falsifying hours, saying they were working when they were not.

Paul Sund, a spokesman for Gov. Brad Henry, said the Department of Public Safety officials who protect the governor and his family do not believe security at the mansion was ever breached.

“We have full confidence in the DPS security detail. We’re not the security experts, they are,” Sund said. Aside from Henry, first lady Kim Henry and two of their three daughters live in the mansion.

The 11 female inmates assigned to maintain the flower beds, shrubs and other greenery at the mansion were chosen for the program because they are considered low security and escape risks, Massie said.

He said prison officials train Department of Central Services workers on how to properly supervise state inmates and that no changes are planned in the program.

Roloff declined to provide further details about what her client says happened to her, saying her client fears doing so would make her identifiable to her alleged attackers. The woman, who now has a job, remains fearful and is concerned that the state’s investigation is taking too long, Roloff said.

“We are concerned that the perpetrators are still free. My client is trying to live and work in the community,” she said.


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