SANTA CRUZ — A Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Deputy who was assigned to the Main Jail was arrested Wednesday and charged with having sex with a female inmate, Sheriff Jim Hart said at a Thursday morning press conference.
Marco Del Real, 29, was charged sexual activity with a confined adult and rape, both felonies. He was also charged with assault under color of authority. He was booked into Santa Cruz County Jail, and was released after posting $50,000 bail.
Marco Del Real
Del Real has been fired from the department, Hart said.
The alleged incident took place in July.
“This incident involved a correctional officer who made a choice,” he said. “Marco Del Real made a choice to violate law, policy and his oath in order to victimize this woman. Del Real’s actions are an embarrassment to our profession, and it sickens me that this happened in one of our facilities."
The case against Del Real began when investigators began looking into rumors that a jail guard had an inappropriate relationship with a female inmate, Hart said.
Hart said he ordered a criminal investigation when he heard about the allegations, as well as a review of departmental policy.
The victim’s identity was not released. She was offered counseling and other services.
Del Real is not suspected of contact with any other inmates. During the investigation, Del Real was transferred to a facility where he did not have any contact with inmates, Hart said.
“Sexual contact between correctional officers and inmates is strictly prohibited by state law and sheriff’s office policy, and our officers know very well that any sexual contact between staff and inmates will result in termination and possibly arrest and prosecution," Hart said.
In the wake of the investigation, all deputies assigned to jails will wear body-worn cameras, which will be activated whenever they enter a housing unit, Chief Deputy of Corrections Steve Carney said.
The sheriff’s office will also install additional cameras in the jail to cover blind spots, Carney said.
Hart said he has assigned two full-time supervisors to make sure jail staff is following policies and procedures.
The department will also bolster Prison Rape Elimination Act training.
He also plans to hire a consultant to meet with incarcerated women to discuss their health and safety concerns.
Hart said he encourages any other woman who has been victimized to report it
“I assure you we will investigate and take the appropriate action,” he said. “The duty of the corrections bureau is to assure and maintain the safety and well-being of incarcerated people, who are some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”