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Pitt. Prison Guards Sexually Abused Inmates?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on September 26, 2011 6:48 AM

A newly-filed federal lawsuit accuses prison guard Harry Nicoletti of systematically raping and sexually abusing inmates at State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh.

The inmate, known only as John Doe, further alleges that 7 other guards participated in the abuse. The suit also names the prison, the state Department of Corrections, and the prison superintendent as defendants.

Officials are being accused of ignoring complaints.

Amongst the accusations are:

  • Forced sexual contact between inmates
  • Forced sexual contact between guards and inmates
  • Food contaminated with bodily fluids
  • Harry Nicoletti providing the plaintiff with prescription medication
  • Assault and battery
  • Threats of unfounded misconduct reports

Another inmate also filed a complaint earlier this year alleging mistreatment of transgender inmates, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The pro se claimant stated that Nicoletti "doled [him] out to other corrections officers."

Prisoners have a right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. This includes sexual crimes and harassment perpetrated by prison employees. Though such abuse is a crime, prisons and government entities can be held responsible if they knew about a guard's behavior.

In the case of State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh, there appears to be some evidence that officials were aware of the abuse. In April, the 8 guards were suspended without pay. In May, the state dismissed four top officials, according to the Post-Gazette.

Aside from the above noted allegations, little is known about those dismissals or the abuse. However, the paper reports that a grand jury is currently investigating Harry Nicoletti and his fellow guards.

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