A Refugio woman accused of illegally having sex with an inmate had access to the jail because she was working there as a cook.
Tabatha Leeanne Anderson, 24, was arrested Aug. 21 by the Texas Rangers and booked into the same jail where she had worked, county officials said Wednesday.
Charged with improper sexual activity with a person in custody, Anderson was released the day of her arrest after posting a $10,000 bond.
Refugio County Sheriff Raul “Pinky” Gonzales said he contacted the Rangers immediately after learning a crime may have occurred.
Refugio County officials hired Anderson as a jail cook May 28, said County Treasurer Rita Trojcak. Anderson is no longer serving in that position, Trojcak said.
In that position, she had access to the jail and worked inside its kitchen, he said.
Carol Anderson, the suspect's mother, said while she knows her daughter made a mistake, she does not understand how she was allowed to be alone with an inmate. Her daughter told her the alleged incident happened with a trustee inmate in a freezer, she said.
“I'm not saying my daughter is innocent. I understand what she did was wrong; we’re not doubting that at all, as her parents,” Anderson said. “But where was the guard or supervisor when all this was happening? I understand that a trustee has privileges, but shouldn’t there have been a guard present?”
Gonzales could not be reached Wednesday night for questions about the jail's supervision policies.
According to the Texas Penal Code, a jail employee who has sex with an adult inmate is guilty of a state jail felony, which is punishable with 180 days to two years of imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine.
When the victim is a juvenile, the crime is a second-degree felony and carries a sentence of two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
The age of the inmate Anderson is accused of having sex with was unavailable.
Gonzales declined to offer further details about the case, saying he did not want to hinder an ongoing investigation by the Rangers.
Sgt. Nathan Bradley, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, echoed that sentiment, saying he could not offer details.
The Victoria Advocate has requested court documents detailing evidence against Anderson, but those documents were unavailable Wednesday.
According to a national criminal history search, Anderson has no criminal history.
Public Safety Reporter Kali Venable contributed to this story.