PRYOR, OK —
A Mayes County jailer accused of raping an inmate pleaded not guilty Thursday. Aaron Peters, 23, Pryor, appeared in Mayes County District Court as the state formally charged him with one count of rape by instumentation. Peters was present in a black suit, accompanied by both his parents and attorney. He is out of jail on $50,000 bond.
Judge Rebecca Gore told Peters he is being charged with rape by instrumentation, a felony. He entered a plea of not guilty and his case was continued to Dec. 19. The arraignment took less than two minutes, after which Peters exited the courtroom.
The probable cause affidavit filed in the case contains testimony from both Peters and the victim. According to the affidavit, the victim told officers she was taken to the Mayes County Medical Center Thursday, Nov. 14, and was admitted. Peters was the officer on duty to supervise her during her hospital stay.
“Peters told her the nurse wanted her to take a shower. While the inmate was in the shower, Peters came in the bathroom and performed sexual acts with her for roughly five minutes,” according to the victim's statement in the affidavit.
She alleges Peters told her to sit on the toilet, in the hospital room, and masturbate in front of him but she refused. Her statement continues in saying the defendant gave her one of his shirts to wear, which the affidavit says she was wearing at the time of her interview with law enforcement.
The alleged victim then describes passing out from medication she received and woke to find Peters performing sexual acts on her. In her interview with the officers, she stated he took off his belt while in the room and that she stole his handcuff key.
The inmate claimed she knew Peters had received notes and flirted with another female inmate.
Testimony from Peters said he arrived at the hospital at 7 a.m., Thursday, and sat in a chair next to the inmate's bed. He said the two flirted while he was in the room.
Peters’ testimony states he kissed the inmate and performed sexual acts on her while she was in the hospital bed. His testimony claims the inmate took a shower and wanted him to join her, but he declined.
He did go in the bathroom and kiss her but she had a towel on, according to the affidavit, which also says there was more kissing Friday and Saturday.
“It was a moment of weakness and he knows what he did was wrong,” the officer wrote in the probable cause affidavit. Peters told officers that he ordered a pizza and shared it with the inmate and that his handcuff key was missing.
Mayes County Jail administrator Kyle Murray said Peters was with the female inmate because of a lack of female jailers.
“It would be ideal to have a female jailer with female inmates at all times, but we simply do not have the staff for that,” said Murray. “Professionalism is the key here.”
Murray said typically jailers will sit in a chair in the doorway of the hospital room, visible from the hallway but still able to monitor the inmate.
“It was when the hospital staff saw the closed door that they alerted us to suspicious activity,” Murray said.
“Peters was in the military for five years and is still in reserves. We've had no disciplinary issues with him prior to this event,” said Murray. Peters was hired in late September.
“This is a big deal. You hear about this happening, even in a state level penitentiary. But just because it happens does not make it excusable,” Murray said.
The victim was transferred to the custody of another jail for the duration of the investigation so that there will be no fear of retaliation or foul play.
“The other inmate the (alleged) victim referred to was transferred to another prison prior to this event. Letters between the two were found in Peters’ residence, but nothing physical happened,” said Murray. “He appeared to be telling the other inmate the same things he was telling the (alleged) victim in the letters, but nothing physical happened.”
Murray explained the shirt given to the victim was the jailer's white undershirt.
“It is also jail policy that jailers have no contact with inmates or their families outside the jail,” said Murray.