Civil Rights Leaders Call For Changes Following Sexual Assault Allegations Against Mecklenburg County Detention Officer

CHARLOTTE, NC – Charlotte area activists are calling for deeper investigations and changes at the Mecklenburg County jail after a detention officer was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a transgender inmate.

“We need to stand for human rights to say what’s right and what’s wrong,” said one speaker at a news conference on Tuesday.

“Now we’ve got an issue where we’ve got problems inside the jail. And it needs to stop,” said John Barnett, a civil rights activist.

Barnett read a letter from the victim saying, “I knew my stay would be upsetting to many who don’t understand what being transgender means,” read Barnett.

In the letter, the victim says they were repeatedly mistreated, left with little hope, and were conditioned to the abuse.

“I have taken the necessary steps to ensure that this does not happen to me or any other transgender who come into your jail,” continued Barnett, reading the victim’s letter.

On Monday, police arrested detention officer Kyle Harris and charged him with sexually assaulting a transgender inmate. Harris was fired shortly after his arrest.

“This is sick. And these charges, I want all seven of them to stick and I want them to stick by any means necessary,” said Barnett.

“We’re asking for a deeper conversation and a deeper investigation,” said Corine Mack, the head of the Charlotte Mecklenburg NAACP.

Mack says Sheriff Gary McFadden is in agreement that further investigation is needed.

“That’s the question. What is Mecklenburg going to do about it,” said Mack.

Mack and Barnett are demanding a review of how inmates are treated as well as the holding policies for trans people.

The victim was supposed to be at Tuesday’s news conference, but she was being held in Iredell county on a probation violation. Barnett says those charged are incorrect because the victim was in Gaston County jail when she allegedly violated her parole.