Originally created 10/27/01

Ex-guard gets jail time for sex with killer



COLUMBIA - Houston Cagle's sexual escapades with convicted child-killer Susan Smith cost the former prison guard his job, his marriage and now his freedom.

Mr. Cagle was sentenced Friday to three months in jail. He pleaded guilty in August to having sex with Ms. Smith and another inmate at the Women's Correctional Institution in Columbia last year.

Circuit Court Judge Lee Casey Manning also sentenced Mr. Cagle to five years' probation and 250 hours of community service.

James Cagle says his father can move on with his life now.

"It's going to be up to him," said Mr. Cagle, 28. "It's not something I'm concerned with."

Investigators found out about the relationship between Houston Cagle and Ms. Smith last summer when they were looking into a tabloid report that Ms. Smith had been beaten in prison.

While reviewing medical records, officers found Ms. Smith, who is serving a life sentence for drowning her young sons in a Union County lake in 1994, had been treated for a sexually transmitted disease.

Ms. Smith then admitted she had sex with Mr. Cagle. He was fired shortly after he was arrested.

In the past year, Mr. Cagle had been unable to keep a job and attempted suicide by drinking lye in June, Mr. Cagle's attorney Debbie Chapman had said earlier.

Mr. Cagle, who met his estranged wife, Tammy Cagle, in prison and married her two months after her release, was ostracized from his Dillon County community.

Judge Manning gave Mr. Cagle the maximum sentence of 10 years for each count of sex with an inmate, but suspended it to 90 days.

"He's lucky he got that," said James Cagle, who let his father live with him in Newberry for a few months this summer.

Prosecutor Kim Aydlette, who works in the attorney general's office, did not offer a sentencing recommendation to the judge.

The revelation that South Carolina's most famous inmate had sex behind bars led to a broad investigation into prison misconduct.

More than a dozen Corrections Department guards and employees have been charged with having sex with inmates or smuggling drugs since a State Law Enforcement Division investigation began last year.

Two prison guards, including Mr. Cagle, and three other Corrections workers have pleaded guilty to having sex with inmates.

"We are continuing to investigate the management of South Carolina's correctional institutions," Attorney General Charlie Condon said. "We will take whatever steps necessary to prevent a recurrence of such incidents."