Charges filed against former Cass County Jail nurse accused of inmate sex assault
FARGO – Cass County prosecutors have filed two felony charges against a former jail nurse who allegedly sexually assaulted an inmate under her care and smuggled a cellphone and other contraband into the facility for him.
The charges against Claire Francine Schwehr, 46, of Dilworth, shed more light on the investigation into the Fargo-Cass Public Health employee, who sheriff’s department officials say was a contract worker at the jail for six years.
According to court documents filed Wednesday in Cass County District Court:
The victim and other inmates reported the contraband, including a cellphone and tobacco hidden in one of the jail cells, to jail staff on May 28.
When investigators talked to the inmates who had information about where the contraband was coming from, they often provided false information or otherwise tried to mislead law enforcement.
One inmate eventually identified Schwehr as the source of the cellphone, tobacco and beef jerky, which he said she brought into the jail for the victim.
The alleged victim told investigators Schwehr had been writing little “smiley faces” on everything, and had begun flirting with inmates.
He and Schwehr eventually began passing sexually explicit notes to one another daily, which Schwehr would hide in the crackers she gave him to take with his medication.
She began to pressure him to call her, he told investigators. He said he didn’t want to, but she wrote her home phone number on his inhaler.
Schwehr also bought him a cellphone, which he used to call her four or five times, the victim told investigators.
He told investigators he started feeling uncomfortable when Schwehr would call him into the nursing office alone. He said she continually asked him to have sex and eventually seduced him.
The victim also said he asked Schwehr if he was her first jail romance, to which she replied she was previously involved with a jail employee.
Cass County sheriff’s officials previously said that video evidence and a jail log corroborate the victim’s statements.
Investigators also seized a greeting card receipt from Schwehr’s purse, and a greeting card from the victim that had writing on it that matched her handwriting, court records allege.
Investigators interviewed Schwehr, who allegedly admitted issuing the victim’s inhaler and putting her phone number on it, but said she thought he could call her when he left the jail.
She denied buying him a cellphone, and told investigators she felt “entrapped into this,” and invoked her right to an attorney, according to court documents.
Clay County sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant on Schwehr’s home June 3. They took photographs of an identifying mark on her body that the victim had identified to them.
Schwehr was charged Wednesday with sexual abuse of a ward and delivery of an electronic device to an inmate, both Class C felonies. She is also charged with delivery of tobacco to an inmate, a Class B misdemeanor.
Her attorney, Lorelle Moeckel, declined to comment.
Schwehr could not be reached for comment.
Schwehr’s first court appearance has not been set.