Former Chester jailer twice had sex with inmate, possessed illegal fentanyl, cops say

A former Chester County jail officer fired last month after working at the detention center for two years was booked into the same jail where he worked on sex and drug charges.

Justin Jamar Bates, 23, was arrested Monday afternoon for having sex with an inmate, just three days after he was charged with illegal possession of the narcotic drug fentanyl, police said.

Bates was out on bond Monday from Friday’s drug arrest by Chester Police Department officers when he was arrested Monday by South Carolina state agents on the sex charge.

Around 4:30 p.m. Monday, State Law Enforcement Division agents charged Bates with two counts of sexual misconduct with an inmate, according to Chester County Sheriff Max Dorsey and jail records.

If convicted of the misconduct charge, Bates faces as much as 20 years in prison under South Carolina law.

The SLED investigation began last month after information was received by Chester County officials, Dorsey said Monday afternoon. Bates was fired Sept. 27, Dorsey said.

“We fired him, and now, he has been arrested,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey declined to discuss the case further, saying SLED was the investigating agency in the sexual misconduct allegations. However, Dorsey said misconduct in office of any type will not be tolerated.

Bates had been a detention officer since August 2017 until he was terminated, Dorsey said.

The felony misconduct arrest was the second for Bates in three days. On Friday, Bates was charged with illegal possession of the opioid fentanyl.

An incident report shows Chester police responded to a Pine Street apartment Friday around 12:30 p.m. Bates called 911 to report a possible overdose of another person, the report stated. Bates was arrested after officers found the drug fentanyl, the report stated.

Chester Police Department Chief Eric Williams said Bates’ drug case was treated the same as any other instance where officers find illegal narcotics.

“The allegation is he had something illegal, and he was treated and will be treated the same as anybody else,” Williams said. “He is a former law enforcement officer. For us, the issue is right or wrong, with no in-between.”

Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control website.

Bates was booked on the drug charge around 2:20 p.m. Friday, jail records show.

The Chester County Sheriff’s office administers the county jail

Bates was released from the Chester County jail Saturday on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond before he was arrested again on Monday, according to public online jail records.

Chester County has had several former officers charged in 2019 by local, state or federal officials.

In July, a Chester County deputy was fired after being charged by S.C. Highway Patrol troopers with DUI after a crash while driving his patrol car.

In May, suspended Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood and two deputies were indicted by federal prosecutors after being accused of excessive force and false arrest of a man in 2018, then lying to the FBI after orchestrating a cover-up of the incident.

In April, a former deputy was charged with taking bribes for nude pictures and having sex with a suspect, according to police and court records.

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.