PA Prison Investigated

A look into accusations of rape and abuse against LGBT prisoners

Photo by Think Stock

After seven corrections officers were arrested two months ago in Allegheny County, a federal investigation has been launched at a prison in Pittsburgh where LGBT prisoners allege they have been abused and raped. The most serious charges have been brought against one guard – Harry Nicoletti, 59 – who’s been indicted on 92 felony and misdemeanor counts, including 10 counts of rape, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune.

He and other guards in Western Pennsylvania are being accused of harassing gay and transsexual inmates, as well as those who have been convicted in the abuse of children. The investigation is looking into whether LGBT prisoners have been unjustly targeted and whether the corrections system has been able to protect the prisoners from abuse at the hands of guards.

“This is a human rights atrocity,” says Bret Grote, an investigator with the HRC. “It is absolutely unconscionable.”

Grote and other LGBT advocates would like to see the investigation expand to other prisons. If prisoners are found to have been subject to sexual and physical abuse, control of the state prisons could be turned over to a third-party for major reforms and legal actions.

The Justice Department urges anyone with information regarding civil rights violations at Pennsylvania facilities to write to the agency at [email protected]