- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The former safety and security supervisor at the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections facility in Nampa could spend only a year behind bars after admitting to sexually abusing a teenage inmate.

Julie McCormick, 31, of Nampa was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison, with a minimum of five years required before she would be eligible for parole.

But the judge retained jurisdiction in the case, meaning McCormick could be free as early as 2015 if she successfully completes a prison program. She was also ordered to register as a sex offender and pay $5,000 to the victim, a 15-year-old boy she began having sex with in 2012 while he was incarcerated at the facility.

McCormick told law enforcement that she had sex with the teen three times and that she had fallen in love with the boy. But the teenager’s mother, who spoke at Friday’s sentencing, said the jailer had robbed the victim of his dignity.

“You brainwashed him about his past and used that to gain his trust,” the woman told McCormick.

Judge Bradly Ford also blasted the former supervisor for abusing her position.

“She held a position of authority and trust; not only to the victim but also a position of trust to the people of Idaho,” the judge said. “The victim was not free to leave facility, and he was under her control.”

McCormick pleaded guilty to lewd conduct with a minor under 16 in 2012, and she could have faced up to 25 years in prison. But she cut a plea deal with prosecutors, who asked the judge to sentence McCormick to no prison time at all - only probation.

“That was the agreement, so we stood up in good faith today and argued probation,” Canyon County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Erica Kallin said. “Judge Ford determined that a rider was appropriate.”

Under that plea deal, McCormick agreed to testify in the murder trial of Nicole Lee Kirtley, 35. Kirtley is charged with shooting George Richardson Jr., 59, multiple times at his Nampa home, then dumping the dead man’s Jeep in the Snake River.

Kirtley confided her role in the slaying to McCormick when they were housed in the Canyon County Jail at the same time, Kallin said.

McCormick agreed to testify against her fellow inmate, but Kallin says now she won’t have to because Kirtley pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in January.

“The trial against Nicole Kirtley was resolved in part as a result of the information from Julie McCormick, so she’s not going to have to testify,” Kallin said.

Kirtley’s sentencing is set for next week, although Kallin expects to see it pushed back to a later date.

The teen abused by McCormick has filed a claim against the state, as has another former juvenile inmate who said he was beaten, sexually abused and threatened by female staffers at the facility.

A whistleblower lawsuit brought by a group of current and former Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections is also moving forward after a federal judge agreed last month to send it before a jury. The lawsuit alleges agency leaders knew staffers were sexually abusing youths, but they did nothing to stop it. The group also contends the department is rife with cronyism, wastes taxpayer money and that managers failed to take action when one youth was caught inappropriately touching another.

The employees say they were retaliated against with when they spoke out about the abuse and other issues at the facility.

Department director Sharon Harrigfeld has said she is confident the state’s detention facilities are safe and that allegations of misconduct are dealt with appropriately.

But a lawyer for the group of employees says there is evidence that regular sexual abuse of juvenile inmates by employees at the center stretches back 15 years.

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