Noem fires prison warden, deputy following harassment claim
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Thursday fired the warden and deputy warden of the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls, following an investigation into an anonymous complaint that alleged supervising corrections officers regularly sexually harassed their fellow employees.
The governor had suspended Darin Young, the former warden, on Tuesday, along with Secretary of Corrections Mike Leidholt. Noem said Thursday she has also suspended Stefany Bawek, who was the director of a prison work program called Pheasantland Industries.
The anonymous complaint released by Noem’s office alleges that supervising corrections officers at the prison were allowed to sexually harass employees and that attempts to report the harassment were ignored. The complaint states that schedules at the prison were adjusted so the officers could “work in the same vicinities as their interest/victims” and that employees who did not give in to the harassment were made to ”suffer by being placed in less desirable posts.”
Requests for comment left at phone numbers listed for Young, Jennifer Dreiske, the former deputy warden, and Bawek were not immediately returned.
The complaint further alleges that employee morale was low amid wages that lagged behind other industries, corrections officers did not have body armor that was “up to standards,” and that promotions were based on personal connections. The organization that represents state employees, the South Dakota State Employees Organization, has said there have been widespread complaints of low employee morale at the prison since March.
Nome’s statement said the investigation into the complaint is continuing.