Indicted earlier this month on 15 counts related to alleged sexual abuse of six female inmates of the STAR Community Justice Center in Franklin Furnace, Lucasville resident and former STAR vocational instructor William Michael Basham, 54, will be in front of Scioto County Court of Common Pleas Judge Howard Harcha 11: 30 Wednesday morning for his first pretrial hearing.
The charges against Basham range from nine counts of sexual imposition, a third-degree misdemeanor, and up to three counts of felony rape. According to the indictment, the alleged abuse began as early as November of last year. STAR operations director Steve McKnight said the Scioto County Career and Technical Center hired Basham to work as a plumbing instructor at STAR. He was unclear as to how long Basham worked for the detention facility, which serves 19 counties around southern Ohio, including Scioto County, and currently houses 287 inmates.
McKnight said he began an investigation into Basham upon hearing of an initial complaint made against him by a female inmate. McKnight stated he followed Ohio law requiring such investigations in any case of alleged sexual abuse involving inmates of state facilities. He also noted Basham passed required background checks before being allowed to work at STAR.
McKnight added after he became convinced the allegations conceivably held merit, he turned the matter over to Ohio State Highway Patrol investigators, who deal with all issues involving state detention facilities. McKnight stated on Feb. 15 patrol officers escorted Basham from STAR property and he has not been back since.
Basham was indicted Aug. 6 and arrested the next day. He was arraigned by Harcha Aug. 7. He currently appears to be free on bond, according to the common pleas court website. “I would call it an isolated incident,” McKnight said of the allegations against Basham. McKnight added he began working for STAR 16 years ago and this is the first incident of its kind during that time.
McKnight said STAR officials do not intend any policy or regulation changes in response to the alleged incidents. He argued the current rules are what brought Basham’s alleged activities to light.
“The rules worked the way they were supposed to work,” McKnight said.
Judging from comments made to the Daily Times, a former STAR security officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, might not completely agree. The person alleged the facility has numerous under staffing problems. The source contends Basham was left alone by himself with female inmates in areas where there are no security cameras. The caller argued male guards often are put in positions of being in close quarters with female inmates, often by themselves and often with no supervision.
“I’ve seen a lot of things they just don’t do right,” the caller stated
The source said they worked at STAR for 2 ½ years, openly admitting to being forced to resign because of an alleged violation of facility rules involving facility reports. The person said that incident is under appeal. The source argued STAR is a worthy program and has helped numerous offenders but expressed concern about the potential for serious incidents involving inmates and staff.
In addition to the counts mentioned above, the charges against Basham also include three counts of third-degree felony sexual battery. The alleged victims in these counts and all others are identified only by their initials. The first count states “on or about Dec. 13, 2018 to Feb. 20, 2019… Basham, unlawfully, did engage in sexual conduct with S.B., not his spouse, when she was confined in a detention facility and the offender was an employee of that detention facility.”
The other battery counts read the same, simply stating different dates and different initials for the alleged victims. Count three contains the earliest date listed on the indictment, claiming the alleged offense occurred between November 2018 and February 2019.
As noted, Basham’s indictment also includes nine counts of misdemeanor sexual imposition. As with the battery charges, the imposition counts all are similar in how they read. For example, count four, the first imposition charge, states “Basham, unlawfully, did have sexual contact with (victim initials) not his spouse, knowing that such sexual contact was offensive to (the victim) or was reckless in that regard.”
Of the three rape counts, two involve one victim, apparently allegedly attacked on different dates, between December 2018 and February 2019. The third count mentions a second victim allegedly attacked by Basham between November 2018 and February. The counts all read in part “Basham, unlawfully, did engage in sexual conduct with (victim’s initials) when William Michael Basham purposely compelled her to submit by force or threat of force.”
The Ohio State Highway Patrol investigative unit in Jackson did not respond to a request for comment for this story. Basham’s attorney already has begun filing routine motions in the case, such as requests for discovery and preservation of evidence held by the prosecution.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.