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Posted: 10:44 AM- ST. GEORGE - While there is room for improvement in hiring, training and supervision, the jail in Washington County is generally well-run, according to an audit released Tuesday.

The audit of the Purgatory Correctional Facility was requested by Sheriff Kirk Smith after five male correctional officers resigned in connection with alleged sexual misconduct with female inmates beginning in January 2005.

Three of those officers were charged criminally.

The 105-page audit, compiled by the consulting firm of DeLand and Associates at a cost of $10,000, was requested by the sheriff and County Commission last June.

The audit found the hiring and training practices by the sheriff's office to be mostly competent and comprehensive.

"The actions of the officers involved in the sexual misconduct were not caused or permitted to occur due to any dysfunction in hiring process or procedures utilized by Washington County," the audit states.

Training procedures at the jail were also vindicated.

"There is no basis for a conclusion that training deficiencies caused the sexual misconduct which prompted this audit," the audit states.

Gary DeLand, who headed the Utah Department of Corrections from 1985 to 1992 and authored the audit, noted that corrections officers faces challenges and temptations in guarding prisoners.

There is no perfect screening process to identify applicants who might make a mistake or succumb to temptation, he said.

"A lack of misconduct in a [applicant] is not necessarily a great predictor for how a person will respond in an environment where prisoners and staff interact on a constant basis and in close proximity."

Of 94 law-enforcement officials to have had their certification revoked between 2000 and 2005, DeLand writes, 43 were for sexual misconduct.

The audit did make suggestions for improvements, but none that would have necessarily prevented the sexual misconduct.

Allegations of the misconduct came to light after a substance abuse counselor informed Smith that a former female inmate confided she had a relationship with a guard.

Sgt. Charles Mrvicka, 58, and Officer Brian Stubbs, 32, both pleaded guilty in May 2006 to one count of custodial sexual relations, a third-degree felony, and one count of custodial sexual misconduct, a class A misdemeanor, and have been sentenced to jail time and probation.

A third officer, Michael Ballard has also been charged and is awaiting trial.