A former Oakhill Correctional Institution officer, charged with sexual assaults of an inmate for a months-long sexual relationship with him, was sentenced to two years of probation Friday after pleading guilty to lesser felonies under a plea deal.
Cassandra Green, 50, of DeForest, pleaded guilty to two counts of abuse of a resident of a penal facility. She was charged earlier this year with two counts of second-degree sexual assault by correctional staff for two instances in which she had sex with the inmate at the minimum security prison in Fitchburg.
Each abuse conviction carries up to 3½ years of combined prison and extended supervision. Second-degree sexual assault carries up to 40 years.
Dane County Circuit Judge Nicholas McNamara went along with the plea agreement, though he told Green that her actions made the prison, and to some degree the entire state prison system, a little less safe. But he said he was persuaded by the compassion shown toward her by the inmate, who did not demand that she go to jail and took some of the blame for her situation.
By pleading guilty to the abuse charges Green will also avoid being listed on the state sex offender registry, which would have happened had she been convicted of sexual assault. Her lawyer, Dennis Burke, said it was important for her to remain off the registry so that she could find a job and provide for her children, two of whom are special needs children.
He said she has also been in therapy since she was charged in April, learning to deal with low self-esteem that led to this situation.
“She has taken this incredibly seriously,” Burke said.
Green apologized in court to the victim and to her family.
Assistant District Attorney Jessica Miller said Green was in a position of trust and power, which she abused, and cannot go unpunished regardless of whether the inmate was a willing participant. Pleading guilty to two felonies, she said, is significant, and Green will never work in corrections again.
According to a criminal complaint, last December Green confessed to her husband, Michael Green, security director for the Wisconsin Correctional Center System, that she had had an affair with an inmate. He had found notes written by her and confronted her. She resigned from her job.
Burke said the abuse of the inmate to which Green pleaded guilty was described in a letter to Burke from the inmate. In it, the inmate said he was placed in segregation and received “hate” from prison staff and other inmates that he said was “unbelievable.” He said he couldn’t handle the stress of that and feared for himself and his family as a result of it.
“That emotional suffering is what is considered abuse under the statute,” Burke said.
The inmate, who listened to Green’s hearing by telephone from a state correctional center in Chippewa County, said he wished Green no harm.
“We all make bad decisions in life,” he said. “I do forgive her.”
“I know the law says different,” he said, “but I was just as much a part of it as anybody.”