Frank Carrico’s female colleagues said the corrections officer wouldn’t take no for an answer.
A female inmate at the Fife City Jail said he didn’t even ask the question.
Sexual misconduct complaints from the five women led to an investigation of Carrico and to his resignation May 20, about six months after he’d started working for Fife.
“I just don’t think he should be able to be around women alone,” the inmate told Kent police, who investigated the allegations. “I don’t wanna be alone with him. I know that.”
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Carrico, 34, casually dated a couple co-workers until they learned he was still with his wife, the women told police. They told him to back off, but his texts requesting nude photographs and sex persisted.
Some colleagues switched shifts, and all kept quiet. They hoped that avoiding Carrico would make the problem go away.
Then the inmate filed a complaint, saying the tattooed officer groped her, cornered her and talked about her panties.
That led Carrico’s co-workers to finally break their silence.
“If the inmate hadn’t come forward, none of us would have,” one female co-worker told police. “We were going to ignore it. But if it went below to people who couldn’t necessarily defend themselves against him, we were gonna come out.”
A second corrections officer, Paul Dzyubak, quit six weeks after Carrico resigned. The city was prepared to fire him for similar accusations from a different inmate.
Carrico and Dzyubak did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the allegations or subsequent investigations. The News Tribune called and sent a letter to Carrico’s attorney requesting comment and attempted to contact Dzyubak several times by phone, letter and a visit to an address listed in public records.
Documents tied to the incidents — obtained by The News Tribune through public records requests — revealed the hesitancy of some employees to report misconduct at the Fife jail.
The Corrections Department recently has been restructured, supervised by a new administrator with no prior corrections experience.
The accusations against Carrico and Dzyubak came three years after another black eye for Fife.
Two police officers resigned and another was disciplined in 2011 amid allegations of misbehavior including inappropriate co-worker relations and drinking on the job.
In February 2012, the city manager and police chief launched an improvement plan for the Police Department, partially aimed at addressing the pattern of misconduct.
Newly appointed Police Chief Mark Mears said the long-range plan is nearing completion. It includes improving community outreach, beefing up nighttime supervision of patrols and working toward professional accreditation.
Mears said the accreditation should be finalized next year.
Regarding the allegations against the officers, interim City Manager Subir Mukerjee told The News Tribune that the city has a “zero tolerance” policy for employee sexual misconduct.
“We do not accept or condone any kind of behavior such as this,” he said.
Mukerjee said he couldn’t comment on claims against Carrico because of litigation related to investigative records The News Tribune has requested.
As for Dzyubak, Mukerjee said he resigned in lieu of termination after an inmate reported him for alleged sexual misconduct.
“We felt that he was not telling us the truth,” Mukerjee said. “Based on that, we decided to terminate (his employment).”
‘SCARED TO BE ALONE’
Documents from the Kent police investigation indicate the inmate’s complaints about Carrico were the culmination of a pattern of bad behavior on the job.
According to the documents:
The inmate first encountered Carrico on April 23 at South Correctional Entity (SCORE) in Des Moines. SCORE is one of several jails Fife uses under contract to hold Tacoma’s misdemeanor inmates.
Carrico’s job was to transport her to Fife for a Tacoma court appearance.
As he was loading the inmate into a van, the officer made sexual comments to her. Once at the Fife jail, he pulled her aside so she could look through her property and told her that her panties belonged to him.
Carrico muttered more “flirty” remarks to her under his breath as he moved the inmate to Tacoma Municipal Court. At the courthouse, he rubbed and grabbed the inmate’s buttocks twice after repeatedly calling her his “naughty girl.”
After returning to Fife, the officer removed the inmate from the group and placed her alone in a shower room for about 10 minutes. When he returned he asked if she had removed her panties. Told she hadn’t, he said he was “going to get her in the back of the (transport) van.”
“It looked like he was gonna come in the room to handcuff me,” the inmate later told police, adding she was “scared to be alone” with the officer.
She also said he was “favoring” her over the other inmates while she was in custody.
The inappropriate behavior didn’t end there, a fellow corrections officer said. He told Kent police he discovered Carrico on or around May 7 using the jail’s software system to look up the inmate’s personal information.
Also on May 7, the inmate reported the incidents to corrections staff at SCORE, where she was in custody for about two weeks after her court hearing. She filed her complaint against an unnamed tattooed officer.
She knew she would be transported through Fife upon her release from SCORE, and feared what could happen if she were alone with the officer again.
“I didn’t want it to escalate,” she told police.
SCORE immediately reported the inmate’s concerns to Fife and told her not to worry, that she wouldn’t be alone with the officer again.
The same day, a SCORE supervisor sent an email to Fife’s corrections staff — including Carrico — notifying them that the inmate would be coming back to them. The email named the inmate, but made no mention of her complaints.
She was part of a group of SCORE inmates driven to Fife. Once there, she was taken by herself to the Pierce County Jail on another warrant.
Both times Carrico was her escort. The second time they were alone together.
No inappropriate physical contact occurred during the moves, she said, but the officer gave her money, a pouch of chewing tobacco and asked if she would contact him after she was released.
The inmate told police she didn’t immediately report the incidents because she didn’t want the officer to lose his job. But she said corrections officers “shouldn’t take things that far” with inmates, according to documents.
A week after receiving the inmate’s complaint, Fife asked Kent police to investigate the matter.
The inmate’s mother said she received a tearful phone call from her daughter after the tattooed officer transported her again. Her daughter was shocked to be alone with him once more, she said.
“She was so scared,” her mother told The News Tribune. “She didn’t know what he was going to do.”
The inmate’s mother immediately called and complained to Mukerjee, Fife’s deputy city manager. She said Mukerjee promised her that her daughter would have no further contact with the accused officer.
The News Tribune couldn’t locate the inmate for an interview; her mother didn’t know her whereabouts.
Kent’s investigation into the allegations against Carrico was forwarded to the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, where the case is being reviewed for possible misdemeanor charges. A charging decision is expected this week.
After her release, the inmate spent about a week with her mother, who told The News Tribune her daughter was “very paranoid” about the accused officer.
“She was really scared about him coming to our house,” she said.
She acknowledged her daughter — a drug addict — is often in and out of jail, but said there’s “no excuse” for “taking advantage of somebody in handcuffs.”
“We felt so helpless,” she said. “Those are the authorities. They’re the ones who are supposed to be protecting us.”
In May, as Kent police started investigating the inmate’s allegations against Carrico, four female colleagues from the Fife jail and SCORE told their supervisors that Carrico had harassed them.
The complaints were different, but the pattern was the same.
According to witness testimony in the Kent investigation:
Some of the female officers had casual relationships with Carrico, but stopped seeing him when they learned he was sorting through issues with his wife and was not separated from her as he told them.
When Carrico continued to ask for dates and sex, the women told him his behavior was unwelcome.
One Fife officer acknowledged she kissed Carrico in the parking lot outside the jail, but said she made it clear she didn’t want their relationship to continue.
Despite this, Carrico continued to ask her for nude photographs and video — requests other female officers said they received, as well.
“Your body is beautiful, and you should celebrate it,” he told one woman, according to her testimony. “I’ve been a good boy. Just a quick one.”
An officer from SCORE said working with Carrico made her uncomfortable, after he had made unwanted advances toward her. She said her immediate co-workers “would go out of their way to make sure” he wouldn’t be around her.
Another female officer told police many female inmates at SCORE would ask, “Is that creepy Rico guy still at Fife?”
The women said they were aware of widespread harassment. Some commiserated together, but all kept quiet. One said Carrico was planning to take another job, and she wanted to wait it out.
“Out of fear of retribution, I just stayed silent,” she told police.
Another female co-worker said she wasn’t surprised when the inmate’s complaint against Carrico was revealed.
“It didn’t shock me because I knew about all the other issues,” she said.
Carrico wasn’t the only Fife corrections officer accused of bad behavior this year. During the Carrico investigation, inmates testified that corrections officer Dzyubak often flirted with women in custody.
Two incidents involving another inmate led to an additional investigation — this time against Dzyubak, 29.
Documents show the first alleged incident occurred about a week after accusations surfaced against Carrico. The second happened 10 days after Kent police interviewed Dzyubak about allegations against his co-worker.
Personnel documents obtained by The News Tribune yielded a partially redacted copy of an internal investigation against Dzyubak. The redactions blacked out the officer’s name, but the city later confirmed Dzyubak was the officer investigated.
According to Fife’s internal investigation:
A female inmate detained by Tacoma police was booked into the Fife jail May 13.
During her stay, she said, a corrections officer was “blowing her kisses.” She didn’t know the officer’s name, but he later was identified as Dzyubak.
She said the officer told her on several occasions that she was “hot” and twice grabbed her buttocks. He also rubbed her hands on his groin while handcuffing her and made inappropriate remarks.
The inmate acknowledged she exposed her breasts to the officer in a bathroom after he asked to see them. He “responded by entering the room and kissing her on the mouth,” and asked her not to say anything about the encounter because he could lose his job.
She said she was shocked when the officer kissed her “because she had never had a police officer behave this way around her, and he was very blunt with his actions.”
She said she didn’t report the incidents because she was embarrassed.
On June 25, the inmate again was booked into the Fife jail on assault charges. She told another corrections staff member to keep Dzyubak away from her.
Later, however, she encountered him again.
She said that while handcuffing her he whispered inappropriate remarks before fondling her breast. He then wrote his phone number on a piece of paper and placed it in her pocket when she was being released from custody.
The inmate reported the incidents to a Fife corrections officer, and Fife police launched an internal investigation into Dzyubak.
Police noted in their report that the inmate was shaking and tearing up during her interview. The incidents made her feel violated, she said.
The investigation concluded the inmate’s complaints could neither be substantiated nor unsubstantiated.
But the investigator wrote that Dzyubak was “not being truthful” during his testimony and noted in documents that the officer “would not respond directly to questions” and “deflected his responses.”
The investigator wrote that the inmate’s story was consistent with witness testimony from a fellow inmate, while details of Dzyubak’s own statements were inconsistent. The officer could recall some specific details about the inmate but not others, documents show.
The city didn’t believe the allegations against Dzyubak elevated the case to a criminal investigation, Mukerjee said, so the report wasn’t forwarded to prosecutors.
Still, Mukerjee said, he planned to fire him.
Dzyubak resigned July 7, three months after joining Fife’s corrections staff full time.
Before the allegations against Carrico and Dzyubak surfaced, Fife was adjusting to a reorganization of its Corrections Department, which now is managed separately from the Police Department.
Mukerjee was hired in February as deputy city manager and has been interim city manager since former City Manager Dave Zabell left for another job in August.
Mukerjee’s deputy position was created, in part, to oversee Fife’s new Corrections Department. He has no prior jail management experience.
The reorganization was prompted by a contract with the city of Tacoma last year, when Fife agreed to house all of Tacoma’s misdemeanor inmates. Fife gave the city a better rate than the Pierce County Jail.
City officials say the small jail in Fife handles nearly six times the number of inmates it did before the Tacoma contract, which also put the city in a position to subcontract prisoners out to other regional jails.
Tacoma inmates make up about 85 percent of Fife’s total inmate population.
Mukerjee said a captain’s position was created shortly after he came on board to handle day-to-day operations at the jail, duties he stressed don’t fall under his job description. The captain position had not yet been filled when the alleged incidents involving Carrico and Dzyubak occurred.
Mukerjee acknowledged Fife has scrambled to adjust to the high volume of inmates handled under the Tacoma contract, but said he doesn’t believe that contributed to the alleged incidents with the accused officers.
“Any organization has these kind of incidents,” he said. “I don’t think the transitional issues had any bearing on it.”
Mukerjee stressed that Fife takes allegations of sexual misconduct with inmates seriously but said most organizations face some form of misconduct or deal with employees who violate policy.
Fife is always looking for ways to improve its operations, Mukerjee said, especially in light of the complaints. It will look at ways to minimize and prevent the threat of sexual misconduct, he said.
The city’s “swift action” in launching the investigations of Carrico and Dzyubak sent a clear message to the city’s workforce that misbehavior won’t be tolerated, he added.
“Anytime we have an incident of this sort, it’s a learning moment,” Mukerjee said. “That’s true in any department.”
Chief Mears said recent improvements in technology will help with that goal. The city spent about $130,000 on a new software system intended to improve video surveillance and inmate tracking.
Mayor Tim Curtis declined to be interviewed about the incidents or general operations at the jail, citing the public records litigation.
Mukerjee said the allegations against Carrico and Dzyubak don’t indicate a systemic problem at the Fife jail.
“A majority of our corrections officers do a great job,” he said.