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Kansas prison dental instructor’s conviction overturned

December 28, 2021 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former dentist at a state prison for women acted inappropriately when he repeatedly touched a female inmate but his actions did not meet the legal definition of lewd, according to the Kansas Appeals Court.

The three-judge panel of the court last week overturned the January 2020 conviction of Tomas Co for having sexual relations with the inmate.

The court said that while Co touching the woman’s hand and her clothed leg above the knee was inappropriate and unwarranted, it was not “lewd,” which was required for conviction on the charge he faced, The Topeka Capital Journal reported.

Co supervised the dental clinic at the Topeka Correctional Facility, where female inmates made dental products such as dentures.

Prosecutors alleged that Co molested six inmates at the prison between 2011 and 2018 but he was found guilty on only one count. The conviction involved a woman whose complaints in January 2017 prompted an internal investigation that concluded Co should be fired.

He was sentenced in March 2020 to 32 months in prison but had remained free during his appeal.

Chris Joseph, one of Co’s attorneys, said Monday the behavior for which Co was convicted involved touching the inmate’s hands and knee while while helping her mold dentures.