Former inmate says corrections officer sexually assaulted her

A former inmate  says she was sexually assaulted by a Washtenaw County corrections officer.

That officer is now off the job and facing jail time, while the 35-year-old mother of three fears that she is not his only victim.

Janice admits she has battled drug addiction and has spent time in the Washtenaw County jail but her latest stint back in May took its toll.

She says it started when she became so sick from withdrawals she had to be taken to the hospital and one corrections officer began to give her unwanted attention.

"It should have never happened," said Janice.

"He kept saying I look familiar," Janice said. "And I'm like I don't know you."

*it didn't take long for Janice to figure out  that corrections officer Kellie Powdhar recognized her from her time as an escort on Backpage.com.

Powdhar was assigned to guard Janice during her stay at the hospital.

She claims he first assaulted her when she needed help coming back from the bathroom.

"He came up from behind me and he started groping my breasts," she said. "I had heart (monitor) leads on, I told him I was not into it, that it was not okay. So he stopped."

But it didn't end there, Janice claims Powdhar cuffed her ankle to the bed, shut the door and then forced himself on her.

"He comes back to my bed, he unzips himself he pulls his penis out," she said. "He grabs the back of my head and forces his penis into my mouth.

"I was thinking do what he says, it could result in something more painful in the end."

Worried about retaliation, Janice didn't say anything until she saw her court-appointed attorney, who reported the sexual assault to the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department.

Powdhar was eventually arrested on four counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct. Powdhar, FOX 2 has learned, has been fired from the department and confessed to abusing his power and groping Janice four times - but denied forcing her to have oral sex.

"Kind of a disgusting area of our society that people who are the most vulnerable and marginalized get taken advantage of, like this," said attorney Kevin Ernst.

Ernst has now taken Janice's case and plans to go after the officer and any county administrator who may have known this sort of thing had been happening and did nothing about it.

"Generally in these situations it is not an isolated incident for a sexual predator like that," Ernst said.

Janice says she is now clean of drugs and is working to turn her life around. She hopes coming forward will help give other women the strength to do the same.

"I hope they come out," she said. "Just because they have the authority they think they can take advantage of us."

Powdhar pleaded no contest to the charge Thursday and is expected to be sentenced to one year in prison in December. He can no longer work as an officer, will lose his CPL and be placed on the sex offender registry.


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