Former Grainger Co. jailers make court appearance

By: Hilary Magacs Email
By: Hilary Magacs Email

RUTLEDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Five former Grainger County corrections officers faced a judge for the first time on Monday, answering to a slew of criminal charges.

"Most of the people in Grainger County want answers. I think they want the issue solved. So I think it's a good thing," said Keith Merritt, who lives in Grainger County.

In November, three inmates - Dennis Rucker, Shane Farrow and David Valentine - climbed over an outside wall at the jail and didn't return. They were eventually captured and since then, the Sheriff's Department fired several jailers and started to make major security upgrades. A few weeks ago, a grand jury indicted the five former jailers.

"The ones that have contacted me are very happy that something is actually being done. Because they hear so much, even in the media, they hear so much- this may happen, that may happen - so they're appreciative that something is actually being done," said Jimmy Dunn, District Attorney for the Fourth Judicial District.

Michael Sane is accused of helping the inmates escape, along with bribery, official misconduct and accessory after the fact.

The Sheriff's son, Jacob Layel, is accused of stealing things from one of the escapee's cell. He - like all of the jailers - is facing official misconduct.

Tyler Farrow is charged with bringing a cell phone into the jail, while indictments say Joshua Bumgardner made a female inmate expose herself.

Jessie Cummings is charged with two counts of raping an inmate and making another expose herself. Three former inmates have also named him in a separate lawsuit, which claims he raped them repeatedly by taking them to an area where security cameras couldn't see what was happening.

"They need to get their justice served, because they've done wrong just like anybody else out here in the world. And you wouldn't think that something like that would be going on in a jail house, and I'm glad they're not getting by with it," said Brenda Hickey, who lives in Grainger County.

MIchael Sane and Jessie Cummings are due back in court on March 24, while the others will appear again on April 21. They're all free on bond.

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