Women admit guilt in rape of jail cellmate

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Before their trial was to start Monday, four women pleaded guilty to their roles in a jail rape that occurred last year.

Meanwhile, the victim of the sexual assault said she will be suing Bedford County Jail for what she endured.

Evetta M. McGee and Brooke L. Whitaker pled guilty to a single count of rape each, while Brandy M. Holden and Kelly N. Dodson both entered a plea of guilty for kidnapping.

Sentencing for McGee and Whitaker has been set for Aug. 17.

The four were accused of the crime following an incident that occurred in the jail last summer. The victim testified last December in a preliminary hearing that the four she shared a cell with attacked her on the night of Aug. 20, 2007.

The victim alleged that McGee sexually assaulted her while Whitaker covered her mouth to prevent her screams from being heard, with Dodson and Holden helping to restrain her.

Punishment

McGee and Whitaker face sentencing of eight to 30 years for the Class B felony, and the length of their sentence will depend on how many prior convictions the pair have on their record.

According to Assistant District Attorney Mike Randles, McGee and Whitaker have agreed their sentences will be consecutive to the terms they are currently serving in the Tennessee Department of Corrections. Those sentences will be at 85 to 100 percent, Randles said.

As for Holden and Dotson, their sentences would fall in the range of three to 15 years for a Class C felony, and the pair have agreed to serve six years. Holden will be eligible for parole when her sentence reaches 30 percent while Dotson will be eligible when she reaches 35 percent of her sentence due to prior felonies on her record, Randles said.

Holden is currently out on bond and will report to begin serving her time on July 31 while the other three are in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

Randles said Holden was allowed bond due to her cooperation with the state in the case and because both she and Dotson were going to testify against McGee and Whitaker.

Randles said the charges for Holden and Dotson were changed to kidnapping since they did not participate in the sexual assault, but only restrained the victim.

As soon as the sheriff's department became aware of the assault, it began an investigation, Randles said.

The assistant D.A. had expected the trial to last two to three days, stating that Capt. Becky Hord of the Sheriff's Department interviewed all the women on the cell block to what they heard that night. Another eyewitness would have been an unidentified woman who shared the cell, but did not participate in the sexual assault.

Other women in the cell block said they could "hear the victim screaming," Randles said, and that they could also hear the response of McGee and Whitaker "saying demeaning things to her."

Will file suit

The victim of the rape shared a cigarette with Holden after the proceedings outside the courthouse.

"Brandy (Holden) was the only one that told the truth," the victim told the T-G. "But Evetta and Brooke ...they didn't have to do that, because first of all -- 'no' means no."

The victim also said that everyone in the cell block heard her screaming but no guard came down to check on her.

"That's their job to go down and check on us," she said, dismissing claims made by a sheriff's department official during a television report about the assault that it was so loud in the cell block that she could not be heard.

She also confirmed that she will be meeting with her attorney Monday and will file suit against the jail.

The victim said she has been seeing a psychiatrist since the assault, saying "it kind of messed me up a little bit."

"I'm afraid of the dark now, I have nightmares. I just try not to think about it."

She also said another one of her priorities is staying out of jail and she claimed she was staying out of trouble by being "at home with my family and my son."