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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

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Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2018 11:24 AM

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Former Fentress County Sheriff Gets Jail Time For Favors For Sex Charges

Former Fentress County Sheriff Charles "Chuckie" Cravens will have to spend a little less than three years in a federal prison for giving special favors to female inmates in exchange for sex.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger imposed the 33-month sentence Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Nashville.

In addition, two unnamed inmates filed a federal suit Tuesday against Cravens and Fentress County that sheds more light on what he was doing. The lawsuit alleges he focused on women inmates who worked the jail garden and were nicknamed the "Garden Girls."

Cravens, 47, pleaded guilty in April to three counts of honest services fraud and one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, essentially addressing his role in using the women.

Related: Sheriff pleads guilty in inmate sex case

With his guilty plea, the former sheriff admitted he used his position to get sex last year and this year.

Among the benefits he doled out to the women were personal rides by him so they could visit relatives and letting the women go outside to smoke cigarettes. According to prosecutors, he also gave money to relatives that they could deposit into the jail commissary account of female inmates.

Cravens would take the women for drives and have sex with them in a vehicle or a vacant mobile home.

According to prosecutors, Cravens also was charged with kicking an inmate and putting him in a headlock while another officer handcuffed him. He also hit the inmate after he was cuffed, according to prosecutors.

After Cravens gets out of prison he'll face two years of supervised release.

According to the newly filed lawsuit, the jail featured a garden worked by female inmates. Those who worked in the garden were called the "Garden Girls," the lawsuit states.

Many of them flirted with Cravens in hopes of getting favors such as cigarettes and money into their commissary accounts.

Neither of the women are named in the lawsuit; both are from Morgan County.

The lawsuit alleges both women submitted to sex with the sheriff in exchange for favors. Each would ride out in a county vehicle with him. They used the excuse that they were taking cornstalks out from the garden for disposal.

Sometimes the sex took place in a trailer he owned; at least one other time it took place on the tailgate of the county vehicle, the lawsuit states.

The women didn't want to have sex with him, according to the document.

"However, both were afraid of what the sheriff would do to them if they did not continue to participate in the arrangement," the lawsuit states.

The female inmates had "pre-existing mental health problems" that included substance abuse disorder, the lawsuit alleges. Because of what they've endured, they now need counseling and treatment, according to the lawsuit.

The former inmates seek unspecified damages after a jury trial.