Rachelle A. Thompson, 48, 130 Thompson Ln., Philipsburg, was facing three counts of institutional sexual assault, weapons or implements of escape, and contraband-telecommunications device when her trial began in October. She decided to stop the trial after lunch and entered an open plea to misdemeanor charges of weapons or implements of escape and contraband-telecommunications device.
According to testimony at the trial, the investigation into Thompson began after a corrections officer saw an inmate using a cell phone. The next day the cell was searched and two cell phones were found hidden in laundry detergent boxes. One of the phones contained explicit photos of Thompson. Other actual photographs of Thompson found in the cell had writing on them addressing her co-defendant Jason Campbell as “my future husband” or husband.
On Friday she was sentenced by Clearfield County President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman to six months to two years less one day in jail and two years consecutive probation. She must also complete counseling and is prohibited from working or volunteering as a counselor at a state institution. She was fined $1,000 plus costs.
Prior to sentencing, Ammerman noted that he had received more than 50 letters of support for Thompson. Several people also addressed the court asking for leniency.
Her 91-year-old grandmother said that Thompson has “always been a very nice girl” who was there every time she needed her.
“She helped everyone, and now she needs help,” she said. She told the judge Thompson needed to get back to work and to help her family.
Thompson’s mother explained she was a retired nurse who had also worked for the department of corrections. She pointed out that inmates are “good at manipulating staff” and once compromised, the inmate is in control.
Other family members defended Thompson saying she was having marital problems and was vulnerable. They described her as humiliated and afraid to leave her home because she is ashamed of what she did. Some said she was punishing herself for what she put her children through.
“She’s more than remorseful,” one stated.
An emotional Thompson addressed the court herself saying, “I take full responsibility for my actions.” She admitted she had compromised the safety at the prison when she gave the inmates two cell phones. She said she was ashamed of her behavior and has many regrets.
She apologized to the department of corrections, her family, friends, the community and the judge.
While arguing her place and length of incarceration, District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. noted that if Thompson would testify against the inmate, Campbell, he would be more likely to recommend a shorter sentence for her.
Her attorney, Ron Collins, stated he will be filing a post sentence motion for reconsideration of sentence because he feels that the two charges derive from the same actions and should merge.
Following sentencing Shaw said the big problem with Thompson’s involvement with the inmate was giving him the phones and not the affair. The inmate used the phone to contact people in Philadelphia who called employees of the prison and threatened them. He himself also called and threatened employees.
“That can’t be tolerated,” Shaw stated.
Campbell was also taking photos of the locks on the cells, which he was sending out in hopes of finding a way to open the doors.