Whatcom County Corrections deputy fired for relationship with inmate

Maximum security cell block at the Whatcom County Jail in Bellingham.
Maximum security cell block at the Whatcom County Jail in Bellingham. The Bellingham Herald file

A male Whatcom County corrections deputy accused of having an intimate relationship with a female inmate at the Whatcom County Jail has been fired.

Adam Garrett Miller, 36, was fired Wednesday from his position as a corrections deputy with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, according to an email from Undersheriff Jeff Parks. Parks said the decision was made after the conclusion of an administrative investigation and the civil service process.

Miller was arrested Jan. 14 on suspicion of intimidating a witness, a felony, and second-degree custodial sexual misconduct, a gross misdemeanor. He was released on personal recognizance Jan. 15, according to Whatcom County Jail records. His trial is tentatively scheduled for April 8.

“There were a lot of rumors to run down and sort out to make sure that we had a full, complete and accurate accounting of what actually occurred,” in relation to the administrative investigation, Parks said in an email.

“We want to be certain that we acted on all information in order to make a sound assessment and hold those accountable that engaged in any misconduct. Adam Miller was solely responsible for what occurred with the inmate who reported concerns through her attorney,” Parks said. “I believe we achieved that goal and that the situation was thoroughly reviewed and investigated.”

Parks said Miller waived his right to a pre-disciplinary hearing that was set to be held Tuesday. Miller did not present any argument or mitigating information for consideration in the case, Parks said.

Miller was placed on paid administrative leave Jan. 14 and received approximately $6,000 in wages and $2,500 in benefits during that leave, Parks said.

Miller was hired in February 2017 by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and had previously been in the military duty.

Parks said the Sheriff’s Office appreciated the assistance received from the Bellingham Police Department, which helped with a thorough assessment of the information.

“The Sheriff’s Office is committed to conformance with the highest standards of professional, ethical and legal conduct at all times and has a standard of no tolerance for instances of inappropriate treatment or violation of rules and regulations regarding interactions with inmates,” Parks said in an emailed statement. “It is of paramount importance to the members and leadership of the Sheriff’s Office that the public trust not be violated and that all persons are treated fairly and appropriately as we perform our daily duties.”

The relationship

Between August 2017 and February 2018, Miller and the female inmate had personal and physical contact inside and outside of the jail, according to Whatcom County Superior Court records.

The pair began flirting after the woman was booked into jail in August 2017 and noticed there was “chemistry” between the jailer and inmate, the records state. Miller wrote the woman a note, telling her “he thought she was too pretty for this, that she needed to get her life together, and he wanted to continue seeing her outside,” records state.

Miller would frequently call into the woman’s cellblock and speak privately with her on a non-recorded phone line reserved for attorney to speak privately to clients, according to court records. He also sent her letters while she was incarcerated and used an alias to disguise the identity of the sender, the records state.

On two occasions, Miller also took the woman to a place on the third floor out of the view of surveillance cameras and kissed her, records show.

The pair spoke or messaged over the phone while she was out of custody, too, records show. In October 2017, Miller showed up at the woman’s friend’s apartment to contact her, but another house guest recognized Miller and they didn’t open the door, according to previous reports in The Herald.

In December 2018, when the woman was again booked into the jail, Miller asked a coworker to remove her from her cell and bring her into a hallway in view of a camera. Miller told the woman the rumors she was spreading about him were untrue, that he wouldn’t tolerate her telling people they had a relationship, and said if she repeated the rumor or said negative things about him, he would put her in isolation and file harassment charges against her, records show. Isolation meant being in her cell 23 hours a day, records state.

The woman said she felt humiliated because the relationship had been mutual and that she also felt threatened by Miller’s statements, records state.

During an interview with Bellingham Police detectives in January, Miller admitted to having a personal relationship with the woman, that he sent her letters, that they kissed and that he tried to contact her outside of the jail, according to court records. He further admitted he threatened to put the woman in isolation in an attempt to get her to quit spreading rumors for fear he would lose his career, records state.

Reporter Denver Pratt joined The Bellingham Herald in 2017 and covers courts and criminal and social justice. She has worked in Montana, Florida and Virginia.
David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.