WINDHAM – A South Paris woman who had been a counselor at the Maine Correctional Center was arrested Tuesday, along with another former prison employee, four days after she allegedly had sexual relations with a male inmate, prison officials said.

Bethany Bondenheim, 30, of 5 Porter St. was charged with one count of gross sexual assault. She allegedly engaged in a sexual act with a prisoner Friday, according to prison Superintendent Scott Burnheimer. She was arrested at her home by Paris police, who had a warrant issued by Portland District Court, an Oxford County Jail spokesman said. She was booked at the jail in Paris.

Bondenheim had been working at the Maine Correctional Center as a drug and alcohol counselor for 10 months, Burnheimer said.

The second woman, who also formerly worked at the prison, was arrested Tuesday on five counts of gross sexual assault and one count of trafficking of prison contraband, Burnheimer said.

April Archer, 37, was a medical technician at the facility, Burnheimer said. She allegedly engaged in sexual acts with a male prisoner on five separate occasions in July. The trafficking charges were “concerning medications,” Burnheimer said.

In both instances, prisoners were called from their dorms to report to the areas where the women worked, he said.

A spokesman at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland, where Archer was booked, gave her address as 330 Windham Center Road in Windham.

“I don’t believe any employee comes here with the intent of crossing the boundaries,” Burnheimer said. But even consensual sexual relations between workers and inmates compromise the safety and security of prisoners, and that’s why the gross sexual assault charge is a felony, he said.

The center houses both male and female prisoners.

The alleged sexual conduct of both prison employees was reported by other workers, Burnheimer said. Bondenheim and Archer were contract employees. Many specialty services at prisons are contracted through large companies, Burnheimer said.

Bondenheim came to the prison through a company called Spectrum Behavioral Services, Burnheimer said. He was not sure where the company is based.

Archer was contracted through Correctional Medical Services of St. Louis, he said.

In 2002, two corrections officers at the center were sentenced to one month in jail for having sexual relations with inmates, Burnheimer said. He said the prison has since adopted a zero-tolerance policy for such incidents.

The officers arrested in 2002 were not contract employees.

Burnheimer did not know the extent of fines or prison time Bondenheim and Archer could face if convicted.

According to reports, Archer was released on $1,040 bail and Bondenheim on $1,000 bail. The place and date of their court appearance was unavailable Wednesday night.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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