Ex-probation officer accused of blackmail, sexual battery, Pinellas deputies say

The state probation officer preyed on a woman he supervised in 2018, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
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Published Jun. 11, 2020

A former state probation officer is accused of blackmailing and sexually battering a woman he supervised, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

Rutherford Jean, 29, who now lives in West Palm Beach, was arrested Thursday on two counts of sexual battery.

He is accused of threatening to violate the woman’s probation — sending her back to jail, and possibly prison — if she did not comply with his demands in 2018, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The woman was not named by the agency.

The Sheriff’s Office said the investigation started in October when the woman, who was an inmate in the Pinellas County jail at the time, made a complaint to detention deputies that her probation officer had blackmailed her for “sexual favors.”

In December 2017, the victim was sentenced to probation for drug charges, the agency said. In the next month, deputies said her assigned probation officer, Jean, made a “home check.” He accused her of lying about her address, she told the Sheriff’s Office, and said he could violate her probation, but they would address that issue at another time.

The woman also told detectives that Jean once received laboratory results from a drug rehabilitation center that showed she had tested positive for drugs. Instead of violating her probation, she told deputies that Jean picked her up from her residence, drove them to an unknown location in Pinellas County and sexually battered her.

In another incident, the woman said Jean met her at her residence, told her to get into his car and sexually battered her, according to the Sheriff’s Office. She said he told her it was “payment for not violating her probation.”

In an interview with detectives, Jean denied the allegations.

Investigators obtained a DNA sample from Jean, which they said matched a sample of his DNA taken from the woman’s clothing.

In July 2018, the Sheriff’s Office said Jean transferred from his Clearwater post to one in the Palm Beach County probation office. He resigned about a month later.

Jean was arrested by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and was booked into the jail there. He will be brought back to Pinellas County to stand trial.

The Florida Department of Corrections did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Anyone who has information about this case or believes they may be a victim was asked to call the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office at (727) 582-6200.