WSAZ Investigates | Civil Rights Violations
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - While a parole officer is tasked with helping people transition from jail back into society, one has admitted to using that power to commit sexual assault.
What’s worse, his supervisor knew and not only did nothing, but he also tried to cover it up. As the parole officer now learns he’s headed to prison, WSAZ asked officials if this case points to a bigger problem under the color of the law.
He was trusted with overseeing their return to life outside of jail, but investigators say Anthony Demetro abused his power and sexually assaulted parolees who were in his care.
“Mr. Demetro -- he was a monster,” said U.S. Attorney Will Thompson.
On Thursday, Demetro was sentenced in federal court where our cameras are not allowed.
The judge handed him a 15-year sentence for preying on the vulnerable.
Investigators say in April of 2021, Demetro began sexually assaulting a woman on parole.
The assault initially happened at a drug treatment facility where the victim was trying to get her life back on track and re-enter society. The abuse then continued in her own home.
According to court documents, the victim’s completion of that residential treatment provided her no escape, as the defendant began victimizing her at her own home several times a month.
What’s worse, prosecutors say the victim believed if she spoke up, he could send her back to prison.
“I found his conduct to be very reprehensible and his attitude, the fact that he felt that he was above the law was disgusting in my mind,” Thompson said.
The victim did come forward to a supervisor but didn’t get any help there.
“What you see in this case is not just a parole officer who should have never done these things to these women, but his supervisor finds out about it and not only doesn’t turn him in - instructs the victim to lie to the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” said the victim’s attorney Jesse Forbes.
That supervisor, David Jones, a regional director of parole for the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, has also pled guilty to witness tampering.
According to court documents, the victim asked Jones for help, but he did not assign her a new parole officer.
When the victim told Jones she had recordings of the parole officer sexually harassing her, Jones encouraged her to delete the recordings.
Sarah Sager: “The fact that evidence was destroyed, and they were told not to say anything, that is very concerning.”
“Very scary. Very concerning. It only compounded Mr. Demetro’s conduct - the fact that they were trying to sweep it under the rug,” said U.S. Attorney Thompson.
Sager also asked Thompson if a broader investigation has been launched.
Sager: “Is there anything going on with the Department of Corrections?”
Thompson: “There was a request to investigate part of the Department of Corrections - the regional jails. It was filed with the Civil Rights Division - the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. We were made aware of that request. Beyond that, I cannot comment as to whether or not an investigation exists.”
With recent allegations also against West Virginia State Police, Sager went to Gov. Jim Justice to ask him if there’s a bigger issue.
Sager: “Do you feel these departments that deal with citizens’ civil rights need more oversight?”
Justice: “We’re not going to put up with this. There’s 40,000 people that work in government. Within 40,000 people, you’re going to have issues That’s all there is to it. We’re on a campaign to do anything and everything we can to clean up more and more and more, and we’re going to continue to do that.”
But that’s not enough for the victim’s attorney.
“We need not just a spotlight, we need giant lights to shine down on the state to see what is going on here. The public at large has to have their faith rattled in the justice community right now,” Forbes said.
Jones is set to be sentenced next week. Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest.
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