A woman working as an educator at the Merced County juvenile hall was arrested Tuesday on allegations of misconduct with the inmates, the Merced County Sheriff’s Department reported.
Marilouise Hawks, 64, was taken into custody Tuesday on suspicion of soliciting a minor for lewd purposes, participating in a criminal street gang, conspiracy, and delivery of a cellphone to an inmate, according to the sheriff’s department’s booking records.
An investigation into Hawks was launched in October 2014 after a juvenile inmate reported witnessing Hawks was “inappropriately touching” two male juvenile inmates at the Iris Garret Juvenile Justice Complex in Merced, sheriff spokesman Sgt. Delray Shelton said.
Hawks was removed from her teaching position at juvenile hall leave in October after she was caught passing a note to a juvenile inmate. In November she was placed on administrative leave by the Merced County Office of Education. Hawks had been employed by the county’s education office since 1999 and had been teaching at juvenile hall for the last nine years, Shelton said.
During the course of the investigation, detectives learned that Hawks had passed other notes, brought cellphones into the facility for the inmates to use and had put money on inmates accounts, the sheriff’s department reported.
“In addition, she was promoting gang activity for inmates by posting photos on Facebook of in custody juveniles to promote their gang status,” Shelton said.
Hawks was booked into the Merced County Jail and subsequently released on bail.