- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - A former Clay County jail administrator got a four-year prison sentence Tuesday for using his authority to sexually abuse inmates at the jail in east Alabama.

U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler ordered the sentence for 48-year-old Jeffrey Scott Cotney of Ashland. He also ordered Cotney to register as a sex offender upon his release and to never seek another law enforcement job.

Cotney pleaded guilty in February to four counts of deprivation of rights under the color of law. The counts involved three inmates.

Cotney’s job included running the inmate worker program, recommending which inmates could participate and supervising the inmate workers.

Cotney admitted to coercing one inmate to submit to sex acts on four occasions at his home and on the roadside. He also admitted forcing another inmate to submit to a strip search with no law enforcement justification and improperly touching and grabbing another inmate after ordering him to remove his clothing.

In his plea deal, Cotney acknowledged he had falsely accused a fourth inmate of possessing contraband and had him put in lockdown for 45 days and then transferred to a state prison in retaliation for rejecting a sexual proposition from the jailer.

The offenses occurred between May 2009 and spring 2010, prosecutors said.

“The U.S. takes very seriously any person who abuses his or her public power,” federal prosecutor Tamarra Matthews Johnson said.

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