ATLANTA – A former prison doctor who admitted sexually assaulting inmates he treated at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta was sentenced to more than two years in prison Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg sentenced Dr. Lewis Jackson to serve 25 months followed by two years of supervised release. He also was ordered to register as a sex offender and perform community service after his release.
Prosecutors say the 36-year-old Jackson worked at the Atlanta prison from January 2011 through July 2012. They say he performed sex acts on three male inmates in October 2011.
Jackson's lawyer Wesley Person argued his client has long struggled with undiagnosed mental illness, which caused him to do things he knew were wrong. But Jackson has expressed remorse, has been getting spiritual guidance and help for his mental illness, and has a supportive network of family and friends, Person said. The attorney had sought a sentence of one year and nine months for Jackson.
Prosecutor Kurt Erskine argued for the higher end of the sentencing guidelines, saying Jackson exploited his power and preyed on vulnerable inmates, causing lasting psychological damage.
Jackson took full responsibility for his actions and appeared remorseful as he addressed the court.
"I want to give an explanation for what I've done, but there's no justification," he said. "I know right from wrong. I've always known right from wrong, and yet I'm here."
He said he's committed to treating his mental illness and pledged to work hard to find a second career that will allow him to give back to the community once he's released.
Jackson's wife, Claudia Barrett, testified that her love and admiration for her husband has continued to grow over the five years she's known him. She said she's never known him to be anything other than kind and committed to serving others.
"God has forgiven him, and so have I," she said.
Jackson's mother, Lillie Jackson, told the judge her son was raised in a Christian home with lots of love and support and had grown into a compassionate and loving adult.
"The behaviors of the person that that court describes are not the person I know," she said.
Erskine read letters from two victims who wrote that they continue to suffer.
"I don't know if I'll ever be able to feel normal," one wrote.
That victim's mother was in court and emotionally told the judge her son should have been treated with respect and dignity, not as "a throwaway." But she also said she wants Jackson to get help and asked the judge to show mercy.
The Associated Press does not identify victims of sex crimes and is not naming the woman nor the two victims to protect their identities.
Before he addressed the judge, Jackson turned to face the victim's mother and apologized to her.
Jackson last month pleaded guilty to similar charges in Washington, D.C., where prosecutors say he sexually assaulted an inmate at the D.C. jail in November 2008. He's set to be sentenced there later this year.