Former guard at women's prison charged with rape

May 20—New Mexico State Police says it didn't take long for a new hire at a women's prison in Grants to start a sexual relationship with a female inmate — also sneaking in cigarettes, jewelry and treats for the woman and her friends on the inside.

Robert Smith, 37, is charged with two counts of criminal sexual penetration and bringing contraband into a prison in the case. He has been booked into the Cibola County Correctional Facility.

Smith started as a corrections officer at the Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in November 2021 and resigned in April after an investigation revealed an ongoing relationship with the female inmate.

"The well-being and safety of the inmate population is of upmost priority to the Department, and our staff remain dedicated to upholding our mission and building a stronger New Mexico," Karen Cann, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico Corrections Department said. Cann said allegations of mistreatment are investigated thoroughly by the department and referred to law enforcement for possible criminal charges.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Magistrate Court:

State Police were called to investigate the matter on May 19 after Smith allegedly told the NMCD's office of professional standards about the relationship. By that time, an investigation was already underway by the facility.

Smith told police that, within a month of being hired, he became close with a female inmate over numerous conversations. He said he became attracted to the woman, "which evolved into bringing contraband into the facility for her and several of her cellmates."

Smith told police he brought cigarettes, food, soda, hand sanitizer and earrings to the inmates and had sexual relations with the woman on at least two occasions. He said the incidents happened out of the sight of security cameras.

Smith told police he kept bringing the items after the sexual relations stopped as the inmates requested them to keep quiet. He said he "felt trapped" and needed to "keep himself out of trouble" by bringing in items.