A longtime Alaska probation officer faces felony charges of having sex with a client under her supervision.
Department of Corrections investigators say officer Shamika Shawnyette Lawrence began an illegal relationship with the man beginning late last year. The client, who is not named in the criminal charges, was out of custody and on electronic monitoring at the time.
A grand jury handed up four felony charges against Lawrence, 39, on Wednesday in Anchorage Superior Court. The investigation began in May when a tipster told authorities about a “potential inappropriate relationship” between the two, said Glen Klinkhart, an investigator for the department’s Professional Conduct Unit.
Under state law, the sexual encounters crossed a line because Lawrence held a position of authority over the client, Klinkhart said. “Being able to decide who he saw. Where he went. What he did."
Klinkhart said the prison system’s internal affairs unit has looked into other reports of relationships between clients and officers, but this is the first time such an investigation led to charges being filed since the unit was created in 2016.
The indictment charges Lawrence with two counts of sexual assault. She is also accused of coercion and tampering with evidence.
Klinkhart said he found no evidence that Lawrence had an inappropriate relationship with any prior clients. “You can imagine that is one avenue that we are going down and looking into,” he said.
Corrections spokeswoman Megan Edge said Lawrence began working for the department in July 2008. She worked in the Anchorage probation office until 2016, when she was transferred to the electronic monitoring program.
Lawrence is currently on paid administrative leave, Edge said. Her salary and benefits total $105,354 a year.