JEFFERSONVILLE — A former Clark County probation officer is in custody facing felony charges after police say he had sex with two female inmates in his charge.
Gerald Kopp Jr., 49, was arrested Tuesday afternoon near his home after a warrant was issued earlier in the day. Court records show he is charged with engaging in sexual intercourse with the inmates on two occasions in a pretrial services office within the jail, and also bringing contraband into the jail for them. He's being held on a $10,000 cash-only bond and faces four level 5 felonies for sexual misconduct and four class A misdemeanors.
Court records show police began investigating after jail staff received a letter Dec. 12 alleging that Kopp, who was both a probation officer employed by the probation department, and a culinary instructor contracted through the jail's food service provider, was having sex with inmates and had brought them contraband including sex toys and headphones.
When police tried to talk with the inmates initially, neither would provide any information about the allegations or where the contraband had come from. They later said they had met Kopp through the culinary arts program, and he at some point told them he had somewhere they could go privately.
Court records show that on Oct. 14 and Oct. 29, Kopp took the two women from their housing units, gave them food and took them to an office he shared with several other employees who were not there. Once in the room, court records show Kopp turned off the lights, pushed a cart against the door and the three engaged in sex acts.
Although there were not cameras in the office, surveillance footage from the hallway shows the three entering and exiting the office together on Oct. 14 and Oct. 29 — the first time, they were in the room for around three hours from 7 to 10 p.m. and the second, about an hour and a half, leaving just before 11 p.m., court records show.
One inmate told investigators Kopp had told her he would do what he could to help her secure a place in another one of the jail programs, and had said he would testify on her behalf in a court matter.
She said although she had no ill will toward Kopp, "the situation was on her mind and that in knowing it was wrong and she felt as if she didn't say anything, Mr. Kopp could do this to someone else," court records show.
When questioned by police Dec. 30, Kopp denied all allegations; he announced his resignation during the interview and was escorted from the building. Chief Probation Officer Jamie Hayden confirmed the resignation had been accepted Dec. 31. Kopp was hired Feb. 4, 2019, according to Clark County human resources.
Clark County Sheriff's Col. Scottie Maples said what Kopp is alleged to have done is "despicable," and said he's glad to see charges brought against him for it. He stressed that the women are the victims in this case, regardless of their criminal history.
"They happen to be in the Clark County jail but they're...victims," Maples said. "They were inmates inside of our facility when Mr. Kopp victimized them."
He also said that as soon as the probation office became aware of the investigation, they volunteered to relocate this office from within the jail to another spot in the courthouse.
Kopp was accepted to be contracted as a culinary instructor through the jail based on his standing as a probation officer at the time. Under Indiana Probation Standards, approved by the Indiana Office of Court Services, a probation officer must be at least 21, have at least a B.A. and pass an exam; they must also attend an orientation program through the Indiana Office of Court Services within a year of their hire date and "be a person of good moral character...which is determined by the probation officer's appointing court," according to the standards.
They are also given a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Maples said it was these credentials as a probation officer that allowed Kopp to be accepted as the culinary instructor, the role which had given him access to the women.
"If I'm out, I have a duty to act like a police officer and hold a moral standing to do so, so that's what we were holding Mr. Kopp [to]," Maples said.
Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull reiterated that the very nature of the fact that they were inmates could have made them more vulnerable to someone with a position of power such as Kopp.
"The law recognizes that there is a power disparity between someone who is in charge and someone who is incarcerated," Mull said. "That relationship is subject to abuse, it is subjected to the incarcerated party sometimes feeling compelled to submit to these sorts of advances in order to either protect themselves or to obtain things that they feel they need in that situation."
He said that if the allegations against Kopp are proven to be true, "then this is a betrayal of the public trust put in Mr. Kopp as a probation officer," he said. "It's very important that the inmates in our jail be protected from criminal activities, whether that's drug activity, sexual misconduct by service providers or battery by other inmates...it's my duty as the prosecutor to have a safe environment to be rehabilitated in in our jail."