Pennsylvania’s twin sex scandals: Penn State, State Pen

Nov 17th, 2011 | By | Category: Bad Apples, Sex Offenders, Spotlight

It's been a banner week for irony in Pennsylvania. Harry Nicoletti, left, is a former Pennsylvania State prison guard accused of systematically raping inmates convicted of the types of crimes pending against Penn State legend Jerry Sandusky, right.

XREF: Just Exactly What Did McQueary Tell JoePa?

Hopewell man among six more prison guards charged

PITTSBURGH — A Hopewell Township man is among six prison guards charged Tuesday after a grand jury investigation of sexual and physical abuse of inmates at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh.

Tory D. Kelly…surrendered with five other suspects at Pittsburgh Municipal Court on Tuesday morning, was arraigned on 30 total counts of charges of official oppression, intimidation of a witness, simple assault, criminal conspiracy to commit official oppression and simple assault and stalking…Kelly is accused of beating a male inmate from Crawford County in December who was convicted of unlawful contact with a minor, and then threatening to harm him further if he reported the incident.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. previously said he expected as many as 11 more arrests in the case that has already resulted in charges against suspended 60-year-old guard Harry Nicoletti of 616 School St., Coraopolis. He was charged in September with raping and otherwise abusing several inmates over the last two years…92 criminal counts including several counts each of institutional sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and official oppression…

In addition to Kelly, the guards charged Tuesday are Sean Storey, 26, of Pittsburgh; Kevin Friess, 31, of Bellevue; Jerome Lynch, 35, of Pittsburgh; Brian Olinger, 32, of Washington; and Bruce Lowther, 33, of West Newton.

All but Olinger are accused of at least one instance of physical abuse against inmates…Among other things, Nicoletti is charged with raping inmates, threatening them with other sexual acts, and with having inmates contaminate the food and bedding of his alleged targets with urine and other bodily fluids…(Full text at Beaver County Times)

Granted, Harry Nicoletti is no “Joe Pa” and a sex scandal in a prison isn’t exactly man bites dog (double entendre unavoidable). However, just as the Penn State story is both instructive and bizarre, exposing just how ostensibly decent people will tolerate evil, the SCI Pittsburgh story seems to have that theme in common and then some.

There’s a Presumption of innocence and all that, however, let’s be clear: Nicoletti and company aren’t being charged for run-of-the-mill prison brutality, sex under color of authority or even a few isolated cases of sexual assault — This sounds like Rape Club

Frankly, that this doesn’t go all the way to the top strains credulity–To infer otherwise in  a case involving 6 officers with the anticipation of “11 more arrests in the case” is naive.

No, Paco’s not saying this is one of the Hollywood style prison stories — I don’t think the Warden is running a sex slave scheme or any such thing.

HOWEVER, I worked in 3 prisons and I know how things work. If something like this was happening on such a scale, there would have been lots of chatter. It very well may have been dismissed out of pocket, but it would be out there in the rumor mill. Snitches would be whispering to their favorite staff.  It is in that context I say this could go all the way to the top–Plausible deniability is hard to find under such circumstances

ON THE OTHER HAND, it is hard to imagine the level of a “code of silence” required to convince the average CO to turn a blind eye to a fellow officer raping an inmate. I mean, I’m not going to give an officer up for eating state food or talking shit to a thug but rape? I’d like to think I would intervene, detain the offender and call for assistance…Exactly what should’ve have happened in that Penn State shower.

Parenthetically, should Jerry Sandusky be convicted of the charges alleged, and it ends up Harry Nicoletti is also guilty as charged, the SCI Pittsburgh prosecutions will have likely protected Sandusky from the type of victimization he allegedly perpetrated against little boys.


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3 Comments to “Pennsylvania’s twin sex scandals: Penn State, State Pen”

  1. Howie Katz says:

    A couple of comments. I take it that all the ‘victims’ were male. How perverted can t hose COs have been? How did they get hired in the first place. If they raped homosexuals, then that makes those COs homosexuals too.

    I’ll be surprised if the warden and associate wardens don’t get axes like the president of Penn State. Even if by chance they didn’t know what was going on, they should have.

    And here is what gives the correctional officer profession a bad public image. The union up and rushes to their defense despite the multitude of charges against those COs. There are some things you just can’t defend and sure as hell shouldn’t. It’s the same with cops when their union defends the indefensible.

  2. King Wills says:

    The C/O’s there might not lay hands-or any other body part-on Jeryy Sandusky, but he wont last long in custody. He’ll PC up right away, but they will get him. Happens all the time in joints across this land with pervs who havent been the center of a worldwide story….a celeb perv like Sandusky will be lucky to last six months.

  3. dilberts dawg says:

    harry nicoletti is the ‘dexter’ of rapists. a tough sell for a protagonist but it has some potential.