Galesburg - Knox County Sheriff Jim Thompson called a fired jail

administrator a liar for alleging a sex scandal cover-up and said he

might sue for slander.

Galesburg - Knox County Sheriff Jim Thompson called a fired jail
administrator a liar for alleging a sex scandal cover-up and said he
might sue for slander.

At a news conference Monday, Thompson said Rich Morris is disgruntled
because he was fired for kicking an inmate in the head.

"Rich Morris is more than just an impeachable witness, he's a liar,"
Thompson said in response to interviews Morris has given to local media.
Morris, who served as jail administrator from 1998 until he was fired in
September 2005, said he made Thompson aware of fraternization between an
inmate and a jail employee in March 2005 and Thompson chose not to
pursue the matter.

Morris says he was fired for pressing Thompson to tell the Department of
Corrections about phone calls between the inmate and a jail employee,
allegdly of a sexual nature.

Thompson said the calls amounted to nothing more than "fraternizing" and
did not violate any laws, only administrative policy.

Thompson said Morris repeatedly kicked inmate Jermaine Jackson in the
head in 2005 while Jackson was handcuffed on the floor of his cell and
then lied about the incident.

Morris was suspended and then fired after an investigation by the
Illinois Department of Corrections and failing a lie detector test,
Thompson said.

Thompson showed the DOC report at Monday's news conference.
"Upon completion of the polygraph examination, it was deemed by the
polygraph examiner (that) jail administrator Morris did not answer the
questions truthfully regarding whether he kicked the detainee in the
head," the report said.

A federal lawsuit was filed against Morris and correctional officer
Stewart Inman by Jackson. The suit was dropped on Oct. 31, 2005, when
Jackson allowed 30 days to pass without filing an appeal.
Thompson said concerns the incident may have been racially motivated
arose when Morris allegedly said "that was a good old fashion monkey

No criminal charges were  brought against Morris because he was on
anti-depressant medication at the time and "for us to establish a clear
frame of mind was difficult," Thompson said.

Morris confirmed Monday he was on anti-depressants at the time and did
fail the polygraph examiner's question about kicking Jackson in the

Morris also said he was suspended for a week in 2002 for choking an

Morris said it was a hold that was taught to officers but was banned at
the time he used it.

"It wasn't like I strangled him or anything," Morris said.
Morris denied ever kicking Jackson or making a statement about "monkey
stomping." Morris said a different officer made the statement to him the
next day and it was attributed to him.

Thompson accused Morris of trying to get back at him by using the
sheriff's problems with Knox County State's Attorney John Pepmeyer.
Pepmeyer, who was appointed state's attorney in January, has been
accused of sexually harassing three women in his office. After those
allegations surfaced in March, Pepmeyer said it was because he was
investigating the alleged 2-year-old sex cover-up at the jail.

Thompson said the 2005 phone calls were between an inmate and a woman
who is currently employed in the state's attorney's office. She is one
of the three women who have claimed sexual harassment by Pepmeyer,
Thompson said.

Thompson said he could consider suing Morris and Pepmeyer for
allegations against him but would wait until after a criminal
investigation against Pepmeyer is finished before deciding.

Kevin Sampier can be reached at 686-3041 or