Ex-guard indicted on charge of raping female inmate


A guard fired from the Harford County Detention Center last month was indicted yesterday on charges of raping a 30-year-old female inmate inside the jail.

Joseph I. Cassilly, the Harford state's attorney, identified the former guard as Mitchell Lynn Johnson, 26, of the 3100 block of White Oak Drive in Abingdon. The indictment states that the rape occurred Feb. 3.

The guard, who worked at the jail for about six months, was charged with second-degree rape and related counts. He was fired April 5 after the female inmate accused him of rape. Mr. Johnson is not yet in custody.

The indictment comes amid mounting questions about the operation of the Detention Center, including the handling of the suspicious death last year of William M. Ford, a 28-year-old laborer from Wilmington, Del., who was serving a sentence for driving while intoxicated.

Mr. Ford was found March 1, 1992, with a pillowcase around his neck in an isolation cell.

Mr. Ford's relatives, who recently reached a $400,000 settlement with the administration of Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, claim he was raped and murdered.

No one has been charged in Mr. Ford's death, and Mr. Cassilly said yesterday that he was "embarrassed" that the investigation has taken more than a year.

Mr. Cassilly has said his investigation of Mr. Ford's death has been handicapped by the possible destruction of evidence. Harford Sheriff Robert E. Comes and his staff have acknowledged that Mr. Ford's jail-issued clothing and the cell in which he was found were washed.

The probe now is focusing on three guards at the jail, said sources close to the investigation.

Announcing another grand jury indictment yesterday involving the jail, Mr. Cassilly said a 23-year-old former inmate of the Detention Center has been charged with third- and fourth-degree sex offenses stemming from an attack on a woman at Harford Community College.

The attack occurred Feb. 11 in the school's Joppa Hall, while the man was on work-release detail from the jail. The suspect was identified as Morris Evans Walker Jr. He is now incarcerated on an unrelated charge, Mr. Cassilly said.

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