Charged with four felonies for contact with an inmate; Miller County Sheriff Bill Abbott calls in Water Patrol to investigate informant’s tip

A Miller County jailer is behind bars charged with four felony counts of engaging in sexual contact with an inmate.   James Gavett, 33, of Eldon has been held without bond since his arrest Sept. 7. Gavett was taken to the Camden County Jail but later transferred to another facility.   Charges stem from allegations that Gavett took part in sexual activity with an inmate over the course of several months. The incidents allegedly began shortly after he was hired by the Miller County Sheriff’s Department.   All of the incidents allegedly involved the same inmate, who remains incarcerated in Miller County.   The allegations against Gavett were apparently brought to the attention of Miller County Sheriff Bill Abbott on Sept. 6 by an informant.   That same day, Abbott requested the Missouri Water Patrol handle the criminal investigation to avoid any possible appearance of impropriety or accusation of preferential treatment.   It is customary in a case like this to ask for an outside, independent investigation.   Water Patrol Lt. Nick Humphrey said Abbott and his staff have cooperated fully in the investigation.   “The sheriff had made it clear that he wants a full investigation with all leads followed, all criminal allegations investigated and referred for prosecution,” Humphrey said. “He was expedient in requesting our assistance.   “The investigation is ongoing. At this point we are not going to comment on additional charges against Gavett or whether there are any other suspects involved until we have exhausted all of our leads,” he said.   Although the Miller County Jail is equipped with video surveillance cameras, the alleged sexual activity was not caught on tape.   Humphrey said the sheriff had discussed the need for additional cameras in the facility. Employees had knowledge where the cameras are placed and what areas were under surveillance.   Abbott held a press conference at the Miller County Courthouse on Monday afternoon.   He told members of the media he was not going to tolerate this type of activity within his department. Any allegations of misconduct will be investigated, he said.   Lake Sun Leader