7 guards charged with sex abuse at Pennsylvania jail

Top row, from left: Paul Voglino, John Shnipes, Mark Johnson, and Jeffrey Staff. Bottom row: James Walsh, George McHale, and George Efthimiou (Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General)

DUNMORE, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania’s attorney general says that sexual abuse charges filed against seven prison guards are helping to address a “persistent culture of abuse” at a jail in Scranton.

Josh Shapiro said Thursday that current and former guards at Lackawanna County Prison abused their positions of power to coerce sex from female inmates. He says the abuse went back many years. Officials say many of the victims hesitated to come forward because they feared retaliation.

Bernie Brown, a lawyer for three of the defendants, tells the (Scranton) Times-Tribune the charges were “trumped up” by plaintiffs who are suing the prison.

The defendants were arrested Wednesday following a grand jury investigation. They face charges that include institutional sexual assault.

Shapiro says the investigation is ongoing, and there may be additional victims.

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