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Probation for York prison nurse who had contact with inmate

Liz Evans Scolforo
505-5429/@LizScolforoYD

A former York County Prison nurse accused of having sexual contact with an inmate has avoided prison.

Shelby Renee Houck, 25, of Mechanicsburg, pleaded guilty Friday to the charge of official oppression, which is a second-degree misdemeanor. As part of her plea agreement, a felony charge of institutional sexual assault was dismissed, according to court records.

Shelby Houck

Houck was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to have no contact with the victim in the case.

She also is forbidden from working at schools or prison during the term of her probation, court records state.

State police in May 2016 reviewed letters between Houck and the inmate, as well as phone records, according to court documents, which state that the correspondence revealed the pair were in a sexual relationship.

Alerted by staffer: Police have said they were initially alerted by another prison staff member who had questioned the inmate about the relationship and decided something wasn't right.

Troopers spoke with the inmate, who said he and Houck were involved in a relationship, and that contact between them happened in the prison's medical office when he was getting his blood pressure checked, court documents state.

At the time, Houck was employed by PrimeCare Medical, the prison's contracted health care provider, according to prison officials. Houck's security clearance was revoked after the investigation, and she was escorted out of the prison, the release states.

In June 2016, an official with PrimeCare Medical said Houck was no longer employed by the company.

Her defense attorney, John Yaninek, said it was an appropriate sentence.

"She made a mistake, and she lost her job," he said. "Because she had a sensitive position, she ended up charged with official oppression."

'Romantic relationship': Yaninek said prison video provided to the defense by the prosecution didn't match the account given to officials by the inmate. Specifically, he said, it showed no sexual contact.

Deputy prosecutor Teresa Jauregui disagreed.

"I believe that with the content of certain videos, we would have been able to prove (the case) beyond a reasonable doubt at trial," she said.

But she said that after going over the case and the circumstances involved, Houck's plea to official oppression was the most appropriate resolution and the "best solution overall."

"She allocated to performing unnecessary medical procedures (to the inmate) over a period of time," Jauregui said. "In a prior hearing, she did indicate that they were in a romantic relationship."

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.