Former Columbia policemen charged for having sex with inmate

Former Columbia policemen charged for having sex with inmate

MARION COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Four men who are no longer employed by the Columbia Police Department must register as sex offenders after an investigation found they had sexual relationships with a Mississippi Department of Corrections inmate.

Former law enforcement officers Justin Codey Herrington, Vasan Josea Oatis, Richard Charles Pack and Shawn Michael Williams were all charged for having sexual activity with inmate Rhianna Nichols, with her consent, which is a felony.

Oatis formed a sexual relationship with Nichols when she was on a work detail at Columbia City Hall, according to District Attorney Hal Kitrell.

"He knows he cannot have relations with that individual," Kitrell said of Oatis' actions.

The other three officers interacted with Nichols when she was on post-release supervision.

According to indictments, the officers sexually interacted with Nichols between October 1 and November 30, 2013, and again between May 5 and June 30, 2014.

Herrington resigned from the department in July 2014, while Oatis and Pack resigned on August 27. Williams was terminated on August 5, 2014.

Herrington faces one count of sexual activity with an inmate, while the other men each face two counts. Kitrell said each count carries up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000, and the men are out of jail on a $10,000 bond.

The charges fall under Mississippi statute 97-3-104, crime of sexual activity between certain individuals and offenders incarcerated in correctional facilities or on correctional supervision.

The investigation, which lasted nearly one year, was conducted by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

Herrington and Oatis' trial is set for October 5, while Pack and Williams have an arraignment on June 11.

To view a copy of the indictments, click here.