STOCKTON -- A former detention officer pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of having sex with a 16-year-old inmate at San Joaquin County's juvenile hall.
Robert Lee Lewis, 41, faces one count of child molestation and another count of unlawful intercourse. Judge Richard Vlavianos set a Dec. 17 pretrial conference.
Lewis was arrested in July shortly after the female inmate came forward. Lewis spent three days in jail and is out on $15,000 bond.
The girl, whose name is not being released, said she was reading in her cell at the French Camp detention facility on a Sunday night in June when Lewis started talking to her through an intercom device, according to the transcript from an Oct. 1 preliminary hearing.
She described being the only inmate in the cell. She said the conversations began about family but then became sexually ex- plicit, and she began ignoring him. After that, she said Lewis came into her cell and had sex with her.
The inmate said she didn't resist because she was scared, and that when he left, he took the blanket on which they had had sex. She said he didn't use a condom.
She said she took three weeks to come forward because she believed Lewis was related to someone else who worked at juvenile hall, according to court testi-mony.
She said she saw an inch-long scar on Lewis' stomach.
His attorney, Ralph Cingcon, said the accusations have been devastating to the veteran probation officer, whom he said he has known since Lewis was a child in Stockton.
"It is important to say my client has an unblemished record of 15 years," Cingcon said. "He is a family man, a church-going man and this has been devastating for him and his family. I have known him and his family, and he is a good man. I hope that comes out."
It is the first case of its type at juvenile hall, said county spokeswoman Karen McConnell.
Kristine Reed, supervising deputy district attorney, said the department promptly filed charges after the inmate came forward.
Lewis had worked for the probation department, which oversees juvenile hall, since 1994, according to McConnell. He rose from a part-time job to full time in 1998. His employment with the county ended Aug. 19, she said, adding that confidentiality surrounding personnel matters prohibits the county from releasing more detailed information about employees.
One guard works in each unit at night at juvenile hall, McConnell said. The units include about 30 cells, according to court records.
In addition, a duty officer patrols the facility, and a second officer is always required before entering an inmate's sleeping quarters, McConnell said.
Bee staff writer Inga Miller can be reached at email@example.com or 599-8760.