Community Police & Fire

Former officer at Gig Harbor prison charged with inappropriate relationship

Posted on February 9th, 2024 By:

Pierce County prosecutors charged a former corrections officer at the Women’s Correctional Center for Women in Gig Harbor with engaging in an inappropriate relationship with an inmate. 

Prosecutors charged Danielle Alexandra Lucas, 32, with first degree custodial sexual misconduct on Wednesday, Feb. 8. The News Tribune newspaper of Tacoma first reported the charge. 

Charging documents allege Lucas engaged in a romantic relationship with an inmate between January and September 2022.

Investigators reported finding explicit notes between Lucas and the inmate, who acknowledged the relationship to Washington State Patrol troopers. Witnesses reported seeing the two pass notes to each other at the prison, and investigators allege Lucas routinely communicated with the inmate via phone and email.

DOC placed Lucas on home assignment in September 2022. She resigned from the Department of Corrections on Oct. 3, 2022, according to a DOC spokesman.

“DOC takes allegations of sexual assault very seriously,” DOC media relations manager Tobby Hatley said.

Anonymous tip

The Washington state Department of Corrections launched an investigation into Lucas after receiving an anonymous tip about an alleged inappropriate relationship in September 2022. 

“They’re always hanging around each other, they’ve been seen passing notes or other contraband,” the anonymous tipster said, according to charging documents. “It’s just a really disgusting and inappropriate relationship, that I’m sure is on many, many cameras. And it’s every time she (Lucas) comes to work.”

Washington State Patrol took over the investigation in December 2022, after DOC concluded the alleged relationship likely constituted a felony.

Lucas, citing advice from an attorney, declined to speak with troopers. The inmate, however, described how she and the corrections officer arranged to meet each other in prison bathrooms, where they could avoid security cameras.

Charging details

The charge of first degree custodial sexual misconduct applies when the “victim believed the accused had the ability to influence the terms, conditions, length or fact of incarceration,” according to charging documents. It carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 

Charging documents posted by Pierce County include a summons for Lucas to appear in Superior Court on Feb. 23.

A Department of Corrections newsletter dated August 2022 recognized Lucas for five years of employment as a prison guard.