Three in Carter County Jail charged with assault; another receives drug charges

By Abby Morris
 Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   Three female inmates at the Carter County Jail were recently charged with assaulting another female inmate who was in possession of the narcotic OxyContin.
   On Feb. 16, Sharon Anne Fox, 41, 4977 U.S. Highway 19E, Hampton, reported to Carter County Sheriff's Department Investigator Laverne Julian that she was assaulted by other inmates. Crystal Dawn West, 19, Cheryl Harrison, 25, and Shelia Dawn Ferguson, 38, were all charged with assault after the incident.
   Fox was placed in an isolation cell for her own safety following the assault.
   During an investigation, officers determined that Fox had concealed OxyContin on her person when she was taken into custody on Feb. 14.
   "She had the drug in a cavity on her body," said Sheriff John Henson. "We're not allowed without a warrant to search a cavity, and then the inmate has to be taken to a doctor and the doctor must do the search."
   According to Henson, hiding contraband in body cavities is not an unusual way to smuggle illegal substances into the jail. "That's how a lot of drugs get smuggled into a jail facility," he said.
   Henson said he believes that, if a female officer or jailer conducts the search of the female inmate, then the officer should be allowed to search for contraband that has been hidden on the body. "Unfortunately, the law says we can't do it," he said. "If we could, it would cut down on the drugs smuggled in."
   According to reports, the female inmates who assaulted Fox were aware of the fact that Fox had smuggled the OxyContin into the jail facility. Through interviewing the subjects involved, investigators determined that Ferguson had held Fox's arms, West had covered her mouth with her hand, and Harrison sat on Fox's legs and searched her pants for the drug.
   Later that day, jailers searched Fox's room and found a needle and loaded syringe containing a liquid substance. Fox was then charged with the introduction of Schedule II narcotics into a penal institution.