BLOUNTVILLE — A former Sullivan County Animal Shelter supervisor — and pastor of a Gate City church — has pleaded guilty to charges he had sexual contact with a female Sullivan County jail inmate and been granted judicial diversion for a period of four years.
Phillip Howard Lane, 47, 1309 Ridgecrest Ave., Kingsport, pleaded guilty to three counts each of sexual contact with inmates and official misconduct Friday afternoon in Sullivan County Criminal Court. Although the state denied pretrial diversion, the judge agreed to grant judicial diversion for a period of four years and ordered him to pay a $100 fine after considering testimony from Lane and others. The judge also told Lane that he might consider a request to end his diversion in two years if there have been no violations.
According to Sullivan County Assistant District Attorney Lesley Foglia, Lane's charges stemmed from allegations he had inappropriate sexual contact with a female Sullivan County jail inmate on three occasions. Court records indicate the inmate was a "day worker" under court orders to work at the animal shelter. The three offenses are alleged to have occurred between June 2009 and July 2009.