NC Jailer had sexual affair with inmate murder suspect, sheriff says

By Jeff Rivenbark - email

MORGANTON, NC (WBTV) - Officials in Burke County arrested a detention officer Friday afternoon for allegedly having multiple sexual encounters with a female inmate over a one-year period.

The alleged incidents involved a detention officer at the Burke-Catawba Confinement Center in Morganton which is the jail shared by Burke and Catawba counties.

Thomas Edward Pearson, 58, of Morganton is charged with sexual activity by a custodian which is a "Class E" felony. At the time of the alleged incidents, Pearson was a night sergeant the facility.

According to investigators, Pearson and an inmate named Alicia Good were involved in several consensual sexual encounters at the jail.

Good is in jail awaiting trial on a murder charge.

"The sergeants, here, at night run the facility, so they pretty much have leeway as far as moving officers to particular areas," said Steve Whisenant, Interim Director for the Burke-Catawba Confinement Center.

The incidents occurred in areas of the jail where cameras are not present and where guard are unable to observe.

According to other inmates at the facility, Good received special treatment in exchange for having sexual relations with Pearson.

Officials said Pearson admitted to having some sort of sexual contact with an inmate, but he refused to provide the inmate's name or any further information.

Pearson resigned Friday afternoon just before he was arrested and handcuffed.

His gear was gathered up by officials who say this matter should not be a reflection of everyone else who works at the jail.

As Pearson was being escorted by sheriff's deputies Friday afternoon, we asked if he was guilty of the charges and he replied, "No."

Since the alleged incidents happened in Burke County, he will not be held in any facility there.

Instead, he will be held under a $50,000 bond at the Caldwell County jail. He is scheduled to make his first appearance in court on Monday.

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