Former South Dakota Penitentiary Officer pleads guilty to having sex with inmate

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Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 3:41 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -A former South Dakota Penitentiary Correctional Officer appeared before a Minnehaha County judge at a plea hearing Tuesday morning. Rian Fitzpatrick, the 33-year-old father of seven, was indicted in September of 2021.

Although he originally plead not guilty, Tuesday, Fitzpatrick changed his plea to guilty to a felony charge of a sexual act between a prison employee and a prisoner.

Court records indicate that on, about, or between Feb. 2nd and March 17th, 2021 the Correctional officer engaged in sex with an inmate.

During the proceedings Tuesday, the State of South Dakota detailed the offense further. The prosecuting attorney said Fitzpatrick received oral sex from an inmate who was under detention and under Fitzpatrick’s authority at the time.

The judge asked Fitzpatrick about his past education. He responded that he was a high school graduate, attended trade school, and served in the National Guard.

Following a pre-sentencing investigation, Fitzpatrick is expected to receive a 60-day sentence, with 40 of those days incarcerated, and 20 days of electronic monitoring, followed by parole. Should Fitzpatrick violate parole, the initial 2-year sentencing would be reviewed. Incarceration was initially discussed in the hearing to take place at the South Dakota State Penitentiary but was later moved to be served as county time, at the Minnehaha County Jail.

Fitzpatrick will also need to reimburse the court for some nominal fees. Although he is employed, Fitzpatrick indicated it will take some time to repay, due to the large family he needs to support.

While the statement was made twice that there would be no further charges made regarding this incident, the question remains about the potential role of Fitzpatrick and the alleged suicides of inmates Michael Noland in March and Michael Hand in April. Dakota News Now continues to receive these reports by both current inmates and Correctional Officers.

The Attorney General’s Office Office representative Tim Bormann reports as standard practice, their investigation remains open until the final sentencing is complete.

In October of 2021, a statement from the Attorney General’s Office indicated the DCI was brought into the investigation of Fitzpatrick in March of 2021, and “an individual connected to the case has passed away.”

The South Dakota Department of Corrections confirms the suicides but has no other comment.

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