ShareThis Page

Female Indiana County jail guard accused of trysts

Paul Peirce
| Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012

Three women claimed on Tuesday that they had sexual liaisons with a female guard in the Indiana County Jail while they were inmates.

Two inmates and one former inmate testified at a preliminary hearing that the sexual encounters spanned several months from 2009 to 2010.

Lane Shelstad, 29, testified she and guard Molly Gross, 43, of Ligonier began kissing as the prisoner was returning to her cell after showering.

"I didn't even think I was gay. But it's nice to get attention from someone no matter where you are when you're in a situation like that," testified Shelstad, who has a theft conviction. She was released from jail and then recently returned there for a probation violation for alleged possession of drug paraphernalia, court records show.

The Clymer inmate told Assistant District Attorney Matthew Ross that inmates gossiped about Gross' sexual relationships with several inmates and with another guard, Margaret J. Dailey, 51, of Indiana.

Clymer District Judge George Thachik ordered Gross to stand trial on charges of institutional sexual assault, terroristic threats and official oppression. In a separate hearing, the judge held for court charges filed against Dailey for terroristic threats against one inmate and official oppression.

Dailey, who was in a relationship with Gross at the time, became jealous and threatened one inmate that drew Gross' attention, according to testimony.

The guards, who have been suspended without pay, said they are innocent. Defense attorneys said the inmates concocted stories to seek retribution against the guards for performing their duties.

"Molly denies every bit of this. I've had inmates who have left the prison ... telephone me and tell me that these women are making all of this up," attorney Allen Roth said.

"They were scheming in there, " Roth said. "It will all come out at trial."

Dailey's attorney, Bob Bell, said testimony from one witness, inmate Miranda Smith, is insufficient to warrant criminal charges against his client.

Smith testified she received a threatening telephone call from Dailey when Smith was not in jail in the summer of 2010.

Dailey walked into a prison closet and discovered Gross with Smith in there "giggling," Smith testified

Smith, 30, of Indiana said she had been intimate with Gross in the fall of 2009 and Smith worried that Dailey would retaliate.

"(Dailey) told me that Molly and I could never have a normal relationship," Smith said.

After Smith was released from prison, she testified, she secretly met Gross for liaisons in her truck.

But Smith said she could not remember other encounters she previously described to state police. She could not recall alleged visits to Gross' homes and a 2010 graduation party Smith supposedly attended for Gross' son.

Former inmate Tammy Cravener, 28, of Kittanning, testified she and Gross would "kiss" and fondle in a closet and a bathroom at the prison.

Cravener, who was jailed for retail theft from September 2009 until March 2010, testified both areas were not covered by video-surveillance cameras.

Trooper Allison Goswick testified she discovered the alleged liaisons while investigating burglaries in the Indiana area. She was listening to a recording of a telephone conversation between inmate Misty Murphy, 31, of Indiana and a relative when Murphy mentioned inmates having sex with Gross.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.