ORLANDO, Fla. — A Florida corrections officer is being terminated after he was accused of molesting two children in Marion County.
- Keith Mitchell Turner accused of molesting 2 children
- Official: Corrections officer's termination is imminent
- Florida prison chief calls allegations "abhorrent"
Keith Mitchell Turner, 34, is also accused in a federal lawsuit of joining others who reportedly beat a disabled female inmate at Florida’s prison for women near Ocala in August.
In the molestation case, Turner was charged with sexual battery, two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation, and lewd or lascivious exhibition, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday.
The head of Florida’s prison system says Turner’s termination is imminent. He worked at Lowell Correctional Institution before his arrest.
“The Sheriff’s findings in this case against Mr. Turner are abhorrent and in complete contrast to the values and integrity held by our staff,” said Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mark S. Inch. “We are moving forward with his immediate dismissal.”
The Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation August 8 after a child detailed the alleged abuse in a letter to a family member, investigators said.
The alleged victim said the abuse began in 2012, said Sheriff's Office spokesperson Cecelia Koon in a report. They were 7 to 8 at the time.
Detectives found a second alleged victim during the investigation into Turner.
“The Marion County Sheriff’s Office believes there is the potential for more victims,” a statement from Koon said.
People who suspect they were attacked by Turner can call Detective Ian Simpson at 352-368-3586.
Turner is being held at the Marion County Jail without bond.
An investigation is also ongoing in the federal lawsuit filed Tuesday against the Florida Department of Corrections filed by Cheryl Weimar and her husband. It was filed in in the Tallahassee-based U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
The suit says prison workers attacked the disabled woman August 21. She is now a quadriplegic, the lawsuit alleges.
Weimar is seeking an unspecified amount of money and is alleging civil rights violations under the 8th Amendment prohibiting “cruel and unusual punishments,” under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Weimar was targeted by prison workers, the suit says, because of her “pre-existing hip condition,” which caused her pain when she told to clean toilets at the prison.
She has a history of physical and mental disabilities, according to her lawsuit, which lists her husband, Karl Weimer, as a co-plaintiff.
She has been incarcerated since January 21, 2016 on three charges out of Broward County: two charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and one charge of resisting an officer with violence. Her projected release date is February 9, 2021.
Weimar reportedly angered prison workers when she asked for a “reasonable accommodation” when she was told to clean toilets, a painful task for her because of her hip disability, her suit alleges.
The workers should have called for medical personnel when Weimar “declared an inmate medical emergency,” according to her lawsuit.
The attackers slammed her to the ground and beat her head, neck and back, the suit alleges.
One of them elbowed her in back, causing her broken neck. They dragged her like “a rag doll to a nearby wheelchair, allowing her head to bounce along the ground along the way,” the suit says.
They continued the “malicious and sadistic beating” in an area not covered by surveillance cameras.