A former Middle River Regional Jail corrections officer avoided prison Monday after pleading guilty to having sex with a female inmate while on the job.

On a joint recommendation by the prosecution and the defense, Judge Victor V. Ludwig sentenced Emerson K. Bell, 31, to two years of suspended jail time and two years of probation.

Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney Lee Ervin said Bell confessed to an investigator that he had consensual sex with the inmate Sept. 1.

Jail officials said Bell worked at the jail from Nov. 1, 2007, to March 15, when he was dismissed.

Bell did not comment during his plea hearing.

Also in Augusta County Circuit Court on Monday:

>> Cody Eldridge Gallahair, 19, of Waynesboro, pleaded guilty to two charges of having consensual sex with two teen girls Aug. 2.

Court records state that the charges were reduced Monday from felony carnal knowledge. Ludwig sentenced Gallahair to 24 months in jail.

>> Travis Wayne Watkins, 26, of Glasgow, entered seven guilty pleas on charges of breaking and entering, attempted rape, two counts of sodomy with a teen victim, consensual sex with a child older than 15, production of child pornography with a victim older than 15, and possession of child pornography.

Ludwig, however, did not accept attorneys’ joint recommendation that would have sentenced Watkins to three years in prison, with 17 years suspended.

The judge said he couldn’t “stomach” the recommendation.

Ervin said it was made based on state sentencing guidelines, and Assistant Public Defender Linda Cyzyk emphasized the consensual nature of the relationship and the changing stories of the victim.

Ludwig said he had rejected a joint recommendation only twice in three years, and he acknowledged it was a “curveball” for attorneys. He then scheduled a July 11 jury trial for Watkins.

Court records show Watkins was previously convicted in federal court of distribution of more than 50 grams of crack and making a false statement. He would face a federal probation violation if convicted in Augusta County.

>> Robert Adrian Cason, 22, of Waynesboro, pleaded guilty to charges of having sex with a teen girl. He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. He was previously convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and sentenced to six months in jail in Augusta County. He also was ordered to serve two months in jail for a plea in Waynesboro in a similar sex case.

>> Ludwig ordered the arrest of Brayden Tazewell Morris, 19, on charges in a Middlebrook burglary. Authorities said Morris, two other men and a juvenile broke into a home and stole a safe containing $50,000 in cash and jewelry.

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