Friday, September 23, 2011

More SCI-Pittsburgh abuse allegations surfacing

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 11:19 AM

As City Paper first reported on Wednesday, allegations have begun to surface involving Pittsburgh prison officials who are apparently at the heart of a grand-jury investigation involving the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh. 

Grand-jury deliberations are secret, and so the allegations at issue are hazy. But as we reported, one former SCI-Pittsburgh inmate, Rodger Williams, has filed a civil accusing one of the 8 suspended guards of sexual assault. Williams accused corrections officer Harry Nicoletti Jr. of "harass[ing], rap[ing], and sexually assault[ing]" him over a nine-day period in April 2010. Our story also noted that Williams' suit wouldn't be the last: "[A]nother inmate plans to file a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse at SCI-Pittsburgh. According to that inmate's family and attorney, the suit could be filed as early as this week."

That suit was indeed filed on Thursday, as Rich Lord of the Post-Gazette reports today. This time, the plaintiff is a "John Doe," but once again, Nicoletti is being accused of sexual abuse. The suit also names other prison guards and officials who, John Doe contends, allowed the abuse to happen --despite pleas from the prisoner's parents. In the new suit, Lord reports

The graphic allegations range from threatening inmates with physical or disciplinary actions if they did not provide guards or other inmates with sexual favors to deliberately contaminating inmate food with bodily fluids. They were met with silence by the state Department of Corrections, which is one of the named defendants.


In January 2010, according to the complaint, the inmate known as John Doe was approached by correctional Officer Harry Nicoletti Jr. and given three choices: be anally raped, perform oral sex or touch the officer's genitals. He was threatened with "physical abuse" and the filing of "fraudulent misconducts" if he "did not [choose] how he was to be sexually assaulted that day," the complaint said.

"There is no truth to any of this whatsoever," said Mr. Nicoletti, who said he worked in the prison for 10 years. "It makes me sick to my stomach that someone can make accusations like that. It's totally false, and there's eight [correctional officers] out on the street with no pay, no benefits."

Nicoletti has also denied the allegations in the Williams suit. 

We've posted the full John Doe complaint here. Be advised that the allegations are just that -- unproven allegations in a civil suit, rather than criminal charges. And that the material in the complaint is graphic. 


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