Over the last month, almost ten correctional officers from Lackawanna County Prison were arrested. These arrests occurred after a number of women testified to investigators and law enforcement officials about being sexually mistreated while inmates at Lackawanna County Prison. A few women who testified to officials are still in prison today. After almost a year-long investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI believed they acquired enough evidence to take the men to trial. Most of the men are still working at the prison while others already quit. Those who currently work at the prison were suspended without pay.
All of the guards charged in this matter are being tried separately. The first hearing was held Friday. James Walsh, age 51, was the first guard to appear before a Lackawanna County Judge. Several women testified against Walsh. One woman described Walsh as a guard who knew how to take advantage of women who made wrong choices in life. With tears in her eyes and almost being unable to speak, another woman talked about how Walsh watched her while on the work-release program. Any mistake the woman made, Walsh would hold it over her head unless she performed sexual acts on him. The woman described this happening on almost 20 different occasions.
James Walsh did not address the court in any way, and there were no objections made by his attorney. There is no indication yet whether James Walsh will take the stand or not. What the public is anticipating is whether or not the guards will testify against each other. Many believe this is why the law enforcement officials working on this case made it mandatory to charge each guard separately. The rest of the guards will have their hearings between the end of March and the end of June.
As James Walsh left the courthouse, family members of the victims were heard screaming profane words at him. Walsh kept the hood from his sweatshirt over his face and did not address those yelling at him.