How an inmate accused of sexual assault was mistakenly released from local jail

Posted at 3:56 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 18:29:37-05

JAMES CITY Co., Va. - How was an inmate accused of sexual assault able to mistakenly be released from jail?

New 3 uncovered new details of what happened inside the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail Tuesday that led to the release of Brian Robert Lewis.

We spoke exclusively to York Poquoson Sheriff Danny Diggs, who is the chairman of the Board of Directors for the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail.

News 3 obtained documents that state that Lewis is accused of punching a woman in the face, kicking her, spitting in her face, hitting her in the head and making threats to kill her because she was going to the cops.

A criminal complaint outlines the allegations against him.

He’s been held without bond since April and is accused is of sexual assault, along with strangulation and malicious wounding charges.

On Tuesday, he was able to mistakenly walk out of jail.

“He kind of took advantage of a human error,” said Diggs. “We’re responsible for it. We owned up to it.”

He said they should have been more thorough and accurately verified the person who they released was in fact the person for whom they had the release papers.

Court documents reveal that Lewis is accused of posing as another inmate, but Diggs said that’s not the whole story.

“The whole story is that they were going to release another inmate with a similar name. This inmate came forward… he never brought our error to our attention, and so, therefore he was so released under the name of another inmate,” said Diggs.

He said the mistake came to light within a few minutes.

He said they tried calling Lewis on the phone, saying, "We’ve released you by mistake." He said when they told him to turn himself back in, he allegedly said he would in a few minutes but didn’t show up until later that day.

Documents that were signed by the magistrate also state that after Lewis turned himself in, he allegedly showed no remorse, stating, “I got out, then I came back," and “takes no responsibility for today.”

Diggs said a review is now underway to determine what went wrong.

“We will look at how did that happen and why didn’t somebody catch the mistake and of course will take the appropriate disciplinary actions,” said Diggs.

He said a review could take a few days.

A jail official said any appropriate disciplinary action that may occur will follow the completion of a full review and investigation of the incident.

They said the victim was notified of the erroneous release Tuesday by JCCPD and Victim Witness and the victim was notified of the recommitment of the offender by VPRJ yesterday evening.

They said the protocol in this situation is the following: Upon discovery of the erroneous release, recovering the inmate and returning him or her to custody becomes paramount. Local law enforcement partners are notified, and notification is made to the Virginia Board of Local and Regional Jails.

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