Gregory Kirk

Gregory Charles Kirk, 40, of Bridgeport Court in Owings Mills, is charged with sexual conduct between a correctional employee and inmate. (Photo courtesy of Howard County Police / December 13, 2013)

A former correctional officer who worked at the Howard County Detention Center has been charged by Howard County Police with having sexual contact with a female inmate.

Gregory Charles Kirk, 40, of Bridgeport Court in Owings Mills, was arrested at his home Friday morning, police said, and will be charged with sexual conduct between a correctional employee and inmate. Police said the charge is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of up to three years in jail and a $3,000 fine.

Police said they were contacted Nov. 15 by the director of the detention center, Jack Kavanagh, who reported an allegation that Kirk might have had sexual contact with an inmate. Kirk, who had worked at the detention center for 18 months, had been previously terminated for unrelated administrative issues, police said.

"When Mr. Kavanagh became aware of the allegation, he contacted our detectives at the police department to investigate this as a criminal matter," Howard County Police Chief Bill McMahon said in a statement. "He made it clear that this kind of behavior by a correctional officer is not tolerated in Howard County."

Police said Kirk is accused of engaging in sexual activity with the female inmate in a cell.

Kirk is in police custody and awaiting booking, according to police.