Media Archive

Inmate held in sex case kills himself

Article from Bangor Daily News, Wednesday, April 05, 2006

By Diana Bowley
Staff Writer

DOVER-FOXCROFT - A Brownville man being held at Piscataquis County Jail on sex charges involving minors committed suicide by hanging Tuesday morning, said the Piscataquis County sheriff.

The body of Richard Prado, 34, was found by corrections officers during a shift change, Piscataquis County Sheriff John Goggin said Tuesday.

It was the first suicide in the Piscataquis County Jail in about three decades and the first suicide in a county jail this year.

One suicide was recorded at a county jail in 2004, and another in 2005, according to Denise Lord, associate commissioner in the Department of Corrections.

Goggin declined to release specifics on how Prado died. The sheriff said he notified Maine State Police about the death, and they sent a team of detectives on Tuesday to conduct interviews with corrections officers and inmates. The Department of Corrections also is expected to conduct its own investigation, he said.

Prado, who was unemployed, was being held on charges of gross sexual assault, sexual exploitation of a minor and tampering with a witness or informant. Police allege he committed sex acts on a local 7-year-old girl and downloaded on his computer digital images of her and another young girl in various stages of undress.

"I just feel sorry for the family members and victims," Goggin said Tuesday.

Prado's wife, Holynda Prado, had filed for divorce, and the first hearing was to have been held on Tuesday.

A Prado family member declined to comment for the story, other than to say it "was a very sudden" death.

Prado came under investigation after a SAD 41 school official notified Brownville Police Chief Todd Lyford that Prado had taken sexually explicit photos of two elementary school girls, according to an affidavit filed by police.

As Lyford gathered the information to initiate a search warrant, he learned that Lt. Robert Young of the Piscataquis County Sheriff's Department also was investigating Prado for a similar child abuse case referred to him by an out-of-state complainant.

As the investigation was under way, Prado admitted himself to Acadia Hospital in Bangor where he stayed for an indefinite period. When Prado was released from the hospital on March 1 with the indication he was no longer a threat to himself, he was arrested, Goggin said.

During his initial court appearance last month, bail was set at $25,000 surety or $10,000 cash. Unable to post bail, Prado was taken to Piscataquis County Jail where he remained pending the presentation of his case to the grand jury in June.

"He was an ideal inmate," Goggin said, adding that Prado got along well with corrections officers and his two cell mates.

Prado, who was taking several medications, did not talk about suicide and there was no warning, so there was no reason to place him under a suicide watch, Goggin said.

Goggin said his officers followed protocol and checked on the inmates about every 30 to 35 minutes. Prado was found dead at about 5:40 a.m. His body was taken to the state medical examiner's office where an autopsy is expected to be conducted on Wednesday.

Prado, who was convicted in 2000 for an assault that was sexual in nature, also could have faced additional charges depending upon the results of a forensic examination of a computer and cameras taken from his Brownville home during a Feb. 8 search.

He allegedly had a number of out-of-state contacts, including an Indiana woman who recently was charged with 11 counts of child pornography, according to Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy.

Almy said Tuesday that while the charges against Prado will be dismissed, he does intend to continue the forensic examination of the computer and cameras to see if there are other people who were victimized or if there are other perpetrators who need to be investigated.

"The problem is that the crime lab is just deluged," Almy said. "These child pornography people are very dangerous, but Maine just doesn't have the money and resources to investigate these dangerous people."

"Content above originated in the edition noted as a copyrighted article and is posted here with permission of the Bangor Daily News."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.