Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Former jail guards placed on ARD

by CHAUNCEY ROSS on October 25, 2012 11:00 AM

Two former Indiana County Jail corrections officers accused of misconduct with several inmates have been placed in the accelerated-rehabilitative disposition program for first-time offenders.

Molly Gross, 44, of Ligonier, and Margaret Dailey, 51, of Indiana, were approved for the ARD program Oct. 10 by Judge William Martin.

Both officers had been charged with official oppression and making terroristic threats in the lockup.

Upon completion of the ARD, their arrests and the charges could be erased from their permanent records.

According to charging documents and testimony at preliminary hearings, Gross had persuaded several female inmates to have sexual activity with her, and Dailey intimidated the inmates after learning of the incidents. The retaliation grew from Dailey's romantic relationship with Gross, according to state police.

Though the liaisons reportedly took place between September 2009 and September 2010, they only came to light late last year during an unrelated investigation. State Trooper Alison Goswick heard references to the trysts in October 2011 while listening to recordings of telephone calls placed by an uninvolved inmate to a family member, according to court papers.

Prosecutors also charged that after Goswick interviewed that inmate to learn more about the sexual activities, Gross learned that she was under investigation and intimidated the informant.

In criminal complaints filed in Clymer district court, Gross was charged with 10 counts of institutional sexual assault, four counts each of official oppression and making terroristic threats, and one count each of witness intimidation and harassment.

Police charged Dailey with one count each of official oppression and terroristic threats.

Gross was suspended from her job at the jail after police filed the first complaint against her in early November, then Dailey was placed on suspension after her arrest in late November.

Both were terminated from their positions Feb. 28 by the Indiana County Salary Board.

At a preliminary hearing, the inmates testified that their relationships with Gross were by mutual consent.

Gross's lawyer, John Roth, of Latrobe, said after the hearing that the inmates made up the stories to ruin Gross's reputation.

Some of the inmates wavered in their stories as Gross and Dailey's trial dates approached, prompting District Attorney Patrick Dougherty to consider the former guards' petitions for the probation program.

"Quite honestly our witnesses were not as strong as we got closer to trial as they were in the beginning," Dougherty said. He said at least one of them consented to having Gross and Dailey placed on probation.

"I ultimately made the decision that was the best for this case," Dougherty said. "ARD is granted on a case-by-case basis. We look at the totality of the facts and circumstances."

Usually, the defendants who go on ARD are those who are charged with nonviolent crimes and have few, if any, prior offenses. The district attorney's office must consent to placing people on ARD and a judge must grant final approval.

Dougherty said the DA's office receives about 75 requests a month from defendants asking to be considered for ARD.

Defendants must pay certain administrative costs of the ARD program; depending on the charges filed against them, some are required to pay restitution, attend counseling or safe-driving school, or perform community service as conditions of the program. Most defendants complete ARD after 12 to 24 months.

Offenders who successfully comply with the conditions of ARD may have the charges dismissed and the arrest expunged from their records.

Dougherty said he requested no special conditions of the ARD probation for Gross and Dailey.

Gross was given two consecutive 12-month terms of ARD because she had been charged in two separate cases, Dougherty said. She was required to pay a total of $1,800 in costs and a monthly supervision fee of $30.

Dailey was assessed $900 in costs and $30 a month for supervision for a 12-month term of ARD.

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