Franco Villella

Judge denies motion of jail officer accused sex assault against inmate

Possible “incriminating statements” made by a former Montgomery County Jail corrections officer accused of sexually assaulting an inmate in a bathroom will not be suppressed from any trial, a judge ruled.

Franco Villella, 23, faces two felony counts of sexual battery for allegedly leading a woman into a seldom-used jail bathroom stall and forcing her to have sex while he was on duty on Dec. 11, 2018.

“Due to his illegal interrogation, (Villella) may have made some incriminating statements,” wrote his attorney, Mark A. Fisher. “Any statements made as a result of the illegal questioning needs to be stricken or suppressed.”

Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Dennis Langer overruled the defense motion on Feb. 22, according to court records.

A status conference is set for March 14 and a scheduling conference for March 28. Fisher did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Villella’s attorney also is trying to have his client taken off the electronic home detention program (EHDP). Villella is staying with his mother and brothers in Troy.

“(Villella) has school loans to pay,” Fisher wrote in a motion. “Defendant has employment available in order to be productive and pay his financial obligations.”

Prosecutors object to changing Villella’s EHDP or bond modification. Langer has not ruled on that motion.

“(Villella) was interviewed following the disclosure of the sexual conduct by the victim and admits to engaging in the activity in a recorded interview,” Montgomery County assistant prosecutor Kelly Madzey wrote. “While Defendant correctly states he does not have a criminal history, the charges in this case reveal a brazen abuse of power and authority.”

If convicted as charged, Villella faces up to five years in prison and lifetime sex offender registration.

Meantime, Montgomery County attorneys have asked a federal judge to dismiss all claims in a lawsuit brought by the alleged victim.

The woman — who is not being identified due to being a possible sexual assault victim — alleged in the complaint that after the incident she was kept in a cold cell with no blanket, mat or pillow for hours.

The woman alleged she was taken to a room with a window and forced to undress with male officers watching, later taken to a hospital and that jail personnel later collected her clothing, the complaint said.

The federal lawsuit named as defendants Villella, Sheriff Rob Streck and county commissioners.

The motion seeks dismissal for many reasons including that a failure to train claim fails “as federal courts have not recognized that any specific training is needed to inform officers not to rape or sexually assault inmates in their custody.”

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rose hasn’t ruled on the motion.

In May 2017, former Montgomery County Jail corrections officer Michael Rose Jr. was sentenced to a year in prison for providing phones to inmates to conduct heroin trafficking.

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