Jail guard arrested on sex charges

December 30, 2009 3:26:44 PM PST
He's guarded prisoners for more than two decades, but Mark Barber is now accused of using his position of power to extort sex from inmates. "Just because they are accused of crime and being temporarily held in correctional facility doesn't mean that what they say is never true," Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.

Behind the barbed wire at the Nassau County Jail, Barber works as a grievance officer, fielding complaints from female inmates about life behind these walls.

Prosecutors say Barber preyed on at least six of them over two years, extorting sex favors. In return, he allegedly provided special treatment, like cigarettes or extra time on the phone.

"There were at times statements made by this defendant along the lines of 'I can make your life miserable here.' And that is true," Rice said. "For a jail staff member to use his leverage to sexually abuse inmates is despicable."

Barber joined Nassau's Corrections Department in 1987 and he was president of the officers' union for awhile.

Back in 1999, after a series of excessive force allegations against his co-workers, he told Eyewitness News to take them with a grain of salt.

No one came to the door at his Levittown home, where Barber lives with his mother and brother.

After his arraignment, his union lawyer said the allegations are completely false.

"Absolutely not, we deny all of the charges outright," he said.

Barber, 47, faces up to 16 years in prison if convicted. He is due back in court January 4.