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Sex Scandal Claims SC Prison Director

William "Doug" Catoe, Director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, is seen in this Jan. 25, 1999 file photo. Cato was fired by Gov. Jim Hodges, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2001, after two guards were charged with allowing inmates to have sex at the governor's residence, deepening a prison sex scandal that has already involved convicted child killer Susan Smith.
AP
Saying he was "mad as hell," Gov. Jim Hodges fired South Carolina's prisons director Thursday after two guards were charged with allowing inmates to have sex at the governor's residence.

The new charges deepened a prison sex scandal that has already involved convicted child killer Susan Smith.

"I've lost confidence in the leadership of the agency," Hodges said in firing Corrections Department Director Doug Catoe.

"I am mad as hell, for the sanctity of my home has been violated," he said.

"We're shocked, disgusted, furious," Hodges' spokesman Morton Brilliant said earlier.

On Wednesday, Richland County chief prosecutor Barney Giese said two prison guards were charged with allowing inmates to have sex at the Governor's Mansion complex and at the governor's temporary residence in a Columbia neighborhood.

Catoe, a 28-year veteran of the Corrections Department, was not at the department offices Thursday and would have no comment on Hodges' action, prisons spokesman John Barkley said. He was appointed to the $122,404-a-year job by then-Gov. David Beasley in December 1998. Hodges reappointed Catoe to the job after taking office in 1999.

Wednesday's charges involved four minimum-security inmates who worked at the governor's mansion complex and temporary residence, handling maintenance, housecleaning and cooking.

According to an affidavit, guard Freddie Priester left his post at the temporary residence while inmates Nancy Mulwee and Antoine Frazier had sex.

Priester and co-worker Demont Gilbert are also accused of failing to report sexual encounters between those prisoners and between inmates Michelle Mathias and Todd Johnson. The encounters began in April and ended in December, the affidavit said.

Mathias became pregnant, and Priester tried to arrange an abortion for her, the affidavit says. Gilbert allegedly advised her to drink bleach to induce an abortion.

The Corrections Department has been under fire since last year, when a guard was accused of having sex with Smith, who is serving a life sentence for drowning her two sons in a lake in 1994. About a dozen employees have already been fired.

Neither guard charged Wednesday was accused of having sex with the inmates, and prisoners told investigators they did not use the governor's bedroom or have encounters while the governor's family was home, Giese said. Hodges and his wife have two sons, ages 5 and 7.

Corrections Department spokesman John Barkley said he did not know the status of Mathias' pregnancy. He said he was unsure what discipline the inmates might face.

Barkley said women prisoners will no longer be assigned to the governor's home or buildings on the mansion grounds.

Johnson, Mulwee and Frazier were serving time for possession of crack cocaine, while Mathias was serving five years for arson, he said.

Priester, 49, and Gilbert, 22, spent Wednesday night n jail. Both were suspended without pay Dec. 13.

According to an affidavit, Priester developed personal relationships with Mulwee, Frazier and Mathias. He allegedly let them use his cell phone, provided Mulwee with a box of cigars and bought them fast food on unauthorized trips in state vehicles.

By AMY GEIER
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