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Crime

Former Jessup women’s prison employee pleads guilty to sex offense involving inmate

A Catonsville man who formerly worked as a lieutenant at the state’s prison for women will spend the weekend behind bars, after he pleaded guilty Wednesday to a sex offense involving an inmate.

A former dietary correctional officer at the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women in Jessup, Santhosh Kavanakudy, 54, received a three-year sentence, suspended after four days, one of which he had already served, as well as two years of probation, during which he can’t work at any correctional facility. Kavanakudy entered his plea in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

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Kavanakudy was barred from returning to the prison and charged with sexual offenses in September, when state corrections detectives investigated an inmate’s report that she had agreed to have oral sex with Kavanakudy after he said he would “help at her parole hearing.” Afterward, however, he told her he could not help, charging papers say.

The woman told investigators that she and Kavanakudy had physically “messed around,” with clothes on, before the May 2021 incident, charging papers say.

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He pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual contact with an inmate, a misdemeanor reserved for corrections employees, on Wednesday afternoon.

“He made a mistake, and he admitted it,” said Thomas Pavlinic, Kavanakudy’s lawyer, calling the sentence handed down by Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Stacy W. McCormack “very appropriate” for the incident.

Pavlinic said his client had worked in corrections for 20 years without incident.

“Sometimes, you make a mistake and it can impact the rest of your life,” he said.

The incident was reviewed by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Service’s investigative wing, whose detectives collected DNA evidence to verify the inmate’s account.

“The department treats all allegations of misconduct with the utmost urgency,” said Lt. Latoya Gray, a spokeswoman for the department, noting Kavanakudy “is no longer in the workplace.”


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