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Ex-prison officer arraigned in sex case

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Jerry Gene Kessler, 34, a former Utah State Prison officer who has been charged with sexually abusing two inmates, was arraigned Monday.

A roll call court date was set for June 16.Kessler, of West Jordan, has been charged with six counts of forcible sodomy, a first-degree felony, and forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony.

A Utah State Prison inmate told Salt Lake County detective Mike Richards that between January and the second week of March, Kessler forced him to go to a locked area in the prison basement and perform various sex acts, court documents said.

The inmate was afraid of Kessler and said he did not want to engage in the sexual activities, but Kessler threatened to have the inmate sent to maximum security or to have other prisoners harm him if the inmate refused to cooperate, court documents said.

However, on one occasion, the inmate managed to spit semen into a rubber glove, which he kept on ice for about a week until he could give it to his girlfriend during a visit, court documents said.

The woman gave the glove finger to Richards and its contents were analyzed by Utah State Crime Lab criminologist Pilar Shortsleeve, who determined it was semen. A DNA test showed the sample of that material when compared to a sample of Kessler's blood "indicate an extremely high probability that the DNA samples match," the charges said.

The inmate also described the style and colors of underwear that Kessler reportedly wore and an April search at Kessler's house produced seven pairs of men's shorts in various colors, according to a search warrant.

Additionally, a second inmate told police that Kessler took him to the prison basement and demanded sexual activity, documents filed in 3rd District Court said. "You are going to do as I ask and in return I'll not make your life hell," Kessler is reported to have said.