Sneaking for sex

June 6, 2006

By Jacob Quinn Sanders
Portland Tribune

Deray Willis got the best of his jailers.

For two and a half hours, he tricked them into thinking he was still in cell 4F12 of the Multnomah County Detention Center while he was actually three doors down in cell 4F15 Ñ where he allegedly had sex with a female inmate. Deputies found out he was in there only when he pressed a call button and asked to be let out.

Late last week, Multnomah County sheriff’s office investigators referred a possible rape case against Willis, 19, to the district attorney’s office, citing the portion of Oregon law that makes a person unable to consent to sex because of a “mental defect, mental incapacitation or physical helplessness.”

“From the minute we heard about this, we have been working to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Sheriff Bernie Giusto said. “It’s a pretty big mistake, and we’re getting to the bottom of it.”

The incident happened the morning of May 1, while Willis was in the downtown jail facing charges of unlawful use of a motor vehicle and second-degree robbery. He was in 4F12 Ñ an individual fourth-floor isolation cell in a mental unit Ñ because he had previously fashioned a fake body in his bed using old clothes and tried to escape, sheriff’s records show.

Deputy James Kessinger came around at 8:05 a.m. to let Willis out of his locked cell for exercise, bringing the inmate back at 8:20, Kessinger’s report said. He took another inmate, Dennis Quinn, out of cell 4F14 and on a walk from 8:20 to 8:35, then peeked into each cell to make sure it was occupied.

“Each cell appeared to have one person in it,” Kessinger wrote.

Kessinger then let the woman, 28, out of her cell for her walk. The Portland Tribune is not identifying her because she is the possible victim of a sex crime.

The cells in this portion of the detention center have large doors that slide horizontally, with slots cut into them for food service. When his cell door opened, Quinn could see Willis hiding, apparently in the communal shower area, according to an investigator’s report. Quinn also saw Willis sneak from there into the woman’s cell, the report said.

At 9:05, Sgt. Stephen Pi–a walked through the unit, noting nothing out of the ordinary. At 9:32, deputies came to take Quinn to court.

Still no one noticed.

Then, at 11:01 a.m., the call light for cell 4F15 went on.

Kessinger asked for the female inmate by name, but instead heard a man’s voice: “No, it’s me, Willis,” according to Kessinger’s report.

“I answered, ‘Sorry, I must have hit the wrong button,’ ” Kessinger said, according to his report.

But Willis cleared it up for him.

“No, no, I was just kicking it with (the female inmate), and I am ready to go back to my cell,” Willis said, according to Kessinger’s report.

Kessinger and another deputy, James Powers, went to 4F15 to see for themselves. Kessinger handcuffed Willis through the food slot and opened the cell.

“As the door slid open I was stunned to see (the female inmate) in the cell behind Willis,” Powers wrote in his report. “Willis seemed nonchalant about the situation, while (the female inmate) appeared completely relaxed.”

Kessinger and Powers took Willis back to his cell, where they found evidence of his ruse.

“Once inside 4F12,” Powers wrote, “I noticed what looked like a body beneath two jail blankets on the bed.”

Clothing, garbage, legal papers and sheets had been stuffed under Willis’ covers in the shape of a person Ñ just as he had done April 8 to get tossed into an isolation cell, sheriff’s records show.

Willis thought he had a bargaining chip once Kessinger told him he would be disciplined.

“Man, you better think about that,” Willis told Kessinger, according to Powers’ report. “I think you’re gonna be in more trouble than I am. You shoulda been watching me go in. Maybe you should just forget about the whole thing.”

Kessinger’s report carries a different portion of the conversation.

“Why you gonna blow this up like that?” Kessinger wrote that Willis asked him. “You gonna get in trouble too.”

“That is fine, I’m a man and will stand up to it,” Kessinger said back.

But Willis still taunted him.

“You gonna lose your job,” he said.

Kessinger remains under internal sheriff’s office investigation for breaches of policy. Willis was convicted of his earlier charges and is serving his sentence Ñ 72 months in all Ñ at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Facility in Pendleton.

The female inmate remains in sheriff’s office custody. She told Sgt. Andre Scott she wished everyone could just forget about it, according to his report.

“Look, this is the first time I had sex in a long time,” she said, “and I’m tired of all these people tryin’ to talk to me about it.”

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