CO Faces Sexual Assault Charges

A correctional officer from the North Branch Correctional Institution is suspended without pay after being charged with sexually assaulting an inmate. 31 year old Brandon Opel is charged with second degree rape, 4th degree sex offense. According to Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional spokesman Mark Vernarelli he has been with the DPSCS since 2016. The alleged victim reported the incident during the summer. According to Vernarelli the case was quickly and thoroughly investigated by DPSCS detectives in the Intelligence and Investigative Division, who worked with multiple partner agencies to bring it to prosecution. Vernarelli says DPSCS was a leader in education and enforcement when the national PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) guidelines were passed by Congress in 2003. The Department takes sexual assault allegations very seriously and vigorously investigates all PREA complaints. A preliminary hearing is set for Dec 24th.