Franco Rodio Villella
Photo: LOGAN COUNTY JAIL
Photo: LOGAN COUNTY JAIL

Former jail employee faces sexual battery charge

Franco Rodio Villella, 22, was detained pending the filing of two third-degree felony sexual battery charges, with a contempt of court charge.

Villella was arrested Thursday afternoon. He has been released from probationary employment at the jail, Maj. Matt Haines of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said.

Haines said regional dispatch received a call late Wednesday about an inmate being assaulted at the jail.

An investigation led to the inmate and Villella, who told investigators the encounter was consensual, Haines said.

“We have video and some other things of the incident,” Haines said. “There was some sexual contact between the former employee who was on duty at the time and the inmate.”

Added Haines: “He would have direct supervision of the inmate, but he should not have had direct contact with her the way he did.”

Steven Williams, the fiance of the alleged victim, told this news outlet that his fiancee was moved to Greene County Jail after the incident.

Because Villella is familiar with jail operations, he was moved to Logan County, Haines said.

Williams accused Villella of pulling his fiancee out of her cell and taking her to a deserted area in the jail and sexually assaulting her.

Williams said that after speaking with his fiancee, he called this news outlet, a local law firm, then the sheriff’s office.

According to Villella’s Facebook profile, he attended Miami East High School. He is from Troy, having studied at Wilmington College, where he was on the football team.

At least 13 federal civil lawsuits have been filed against Montgomery County over jail operations, including one that was dismissed and another in which a jury ruled in favor of the county.

County Sheriff Phil Plummer has said that lawsuits happen with an old jail, a staff that is too small for operations and judges who control a jail population that’s staying longer.

Plummer was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives, District 40, last month.

In August, county Commissioner Debbie Lieberman said the county and its insurers could be responsible for more than $10 million in settlements and legal costs in a string of lawsuits alleging inmate mistreatment — some resulting in deaths — in the jail.

The counts of sexual battery each carry terms of up to five years. Haines said the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office has approved the charges.

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