Newsmaker Interviews
Thursday, February 15th

Pa. Atty. General Josh Shapiro discusses the recent arrest of 7 current and former Lackawanna County Prison guards in a female inmate sex abuse scandal.  Shapiro asks other possible victims and/or witnesses to come forward with any information in the case. 


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Amateur. Shapiro. Acknowledged the tools to hear. An announcement. Joined today by herself worse deputies. From the office and tree if you're a senior deputy attorney general's quick riches. Agent Ralph said as the office and very pleased. I. Numbers it's it's it's we were very close what. This case an average day. Appreciate who holds true now. Your house and I think. Corporate speech captain Chris it's well skier. Today. Let them works or. Else charges institutional. Such. It's. It's. This is abuse. Taking things. Weren't detailed case. This. Last year shortly after I'm sworn in this tree. We received conflict. On this case. Act one district attorney's office. You'd network. He accepted the case. Prosecutors. In me. Immediately. Brought this case to a statewide investigative. Injury. Which began in testimony from witnesses and yeah its last September as our investigation. It's on. Nine agents from the office of the attorney general. Officers. From the Pennsylvania state police served search warrants at one person. And other locations in the count. Our agents and officers spent over twelve hours after prison. Downward computer files and movies literally truck load of documents. Potential evidence. Yesterday. As a result of our yearlong investigation. My agents along with reports from some things to please. Arrested seven current and former apple want prison he's like one person correctional officers. These correctional officers troopers. Are charged with using their positions. Or. Two men that you. And downed it you know in its perpetuating. Pervasive culture. Continues. Sexual abuse and rest. Inmates at that Chris. Those who degree injuries so containing an 816 page present. Which lays out in horrifying thing. Our culture of sexual assault that prison guards female inmates at the prison. That existed. For many many years. I want to stress. This was not one rove prison guard. This was a pervasive. Culture of sexual assault. Well inmates. Are guards who were well known weave in jail. In the most basic terms these defendants. Used their power as cars. To demand. And coerce sex from inmates. Who had no power. Due to their incarcerated. Status. These correctional officers. Had a duty of care to these entrance. Instead. They took advantage. For their own sick gratification. Then. They threaten to make these inmates lives worse. If they told anyone about the abuse. These women inmates were understandably. Reluctant to working abuse anyone in authority. They literally had nowhere to go. They feared repercussions. If they told anymore. And tragically considered. These horrendous behavior. Is simply the status quo. Simply. That. Sexually presses and arm as a fact of their daily lives. The grand jury present details. This culture of sexual assault. One of the accused guards. Coercing a female inmates perform a sex act on him hurt yourself. Until the wall we were clipped. They're clicking the off was actually a warning. That someone was coming. The grand jury learned it other cars. In control room. Had the ability to clear a lot remote or does that sit. Another few knowing me testify. With the injury being coerced into increasing utility closet were of course there were no cameras by another part. Where he had sex with me in me and made her performs several. Various sexual acts. This happened more than ten. The guards had tradition. Having women inmates. Perform certain sexual acts in certain locations. In the prison. This was so commonplace. That the women actually slang term for. The Guardsmen can be in me it's important that it views. Things like commissary. Food and cigarettes or picture phone. All the manipulate these with. Worse than continue. To have sex with continue to perform. These sexual acts. Absolutely. Dwarf. These acts were repeated. These guys will continue us. In the course of this kind. Which persisted over a long period of time. That's. In some cases for over a decade. This course when the course content went on. In the few instances. Where these holes were reported. To prison personnel. Atlanta wanna Chris. There is no Apple's not. Did any action was ever take. To assist these inmates who were being assaulted. By the guards. There we suits were silence. These inmates troops who were ignored. This is outrageous. Criminal conduct. By those in positions of power. If individuals are sentenced to prison as a consequence. Of their conduct. There they should not be subjected to sexual assault. The hands of the very public importance. We're charged with supervising. Their incarceration. Today. Working with our tremendous partners to Pennsylvania State who wins. You're working and these persistent culture of sexual abuse a political one McCarron Chris. But make no mistake. This is not the final chapter. Mean this horrible side. It is not a chapter. We charged seven former and current prison guards with the various offenses related to more investigation. Into views that Chris. Names are John Schmidt sees Jeffrey step. George senior. Mark Johnson. George McHale. Paul what we know. And James Walsh. These defendants face a wide range of charges. Including. Institutional. Sexual assault. Involuntary. Deviant sexual intercourse. Aggravated indecent assault. Harassment. Indecent assault. If convicted on all of these charges some of these defendants face prison sentences. As much is over fifty years. Are now these are formally charged and I want you to know what the people this community to know that we won't. To the fullest extent of the law. These arrests. Are as a result of strong enforcement cooperation. With our partners in the past in your state police. And the effective use of the state line investigative grand jury. I can't work thank PSP. And the members of the grand jury that their commitment to this investigation. Now wanna make it very important. I want to stress today. That this investigation. Is very much point oh very much. Go. Whenever you see. This kind of scope. Where every machine these kind of pervasive culture. With so I'll switches. You have to wonder how far up to change this goes. What the people in this community to know. That we are continuing to work to answer that question. We also. That there maybe other victims witnesses. Who may not know how it won't go. War room just me be very afraid. I want them to hear me direct you do not have to be afraid. We want to hear. We will ensure your safety and well in that process. We hear from you we are here for you we want to hear your true. You do not have to hear these men were other men in similar positions. In long. I'm asking you. To please. Take the time to call a special hotline that we have set up specifically. For you. That it. Through those who have information. These tragic case to call us directly. That you know that special hotline set up just review these pipes and you. 846. Towards euros for. Again this special artwork is 708. Warships. Were 072. If you rip it in for him at all. About this long running culture of sexual assault that prison calls. And again if you're picked him you're the witness. Here. Now. Also stress. That there are people in positions of power in this community who are already spoken to us. And if you workers. In a position of power who's been aware of this culture of abuse you wanna hear from you as well. Now's the time to come forward now is the time to let us know what you've now. We are knocked up and she's very much and on going investigation. These corrections officers. Repeatedly used. Their positions of power. To solicit sex. And use you know and it's he had nowhere to go. Today it's the beginning. That you process that. And it is the beginning chapter of us getting answers this community. The attorney general I will continue to combat sexual abuse. In our correctional institutions. All across our. Children. You the duty to care to anything. We incarcerate. Any correction institution. Across Chicago. And that's optional on both locations across pencil and we will go after prayers. Where every week fine. And we won't hold it anyone's account. Where they are crimes. They will face justice. No one is above the law. We will apply the law with out fear. And without pay. Two women who headed toward this horrendous abuse for so many years and spurs. We hear. Today. Thanks to you were bravery grateful. Thanks to strong law enforcement collaboration. Crew will work my team offers a determination. We are putting a stop to hear one countries. Will continue this work going forward. We got. It turns answering questions. What stresses are sick it is this ongoing investigations of equipment certainly. Decent and I answered questions behind whoever these. We're there are some people through the course of this investigation. That you were not able to charge. Because the abuse is taken. This is going on over such a long period of time the statute of limitations in some cases is something. But make no mistake the charges that we volunteers there are serious charges. They are plentiful. And are a lot of work guess what happens in the future I can tell you we're not there. Potentially you were due to locate Q. Hey Jason people this is our. Don't know about this culture. Say. What. Actually kind of criminal charges. I appreciate the question you're asking I can answer that question and we'll answer that question right. Exit before we heard from people in positions now. We will hear from others. And those that we want to hear from probably knows that there's something wanna tell us something need to get off their gesturing. And based on information and make decisions about charging. Based on the evidence based on. Would put him because they think in this prison I mean this has been going on clearly for a long time and there's at least one individual. Was forced out. We believe was part of his heart rate was not charged so. We have these experts. We have to do our job. Which you get your girl when we. Received this case. We immediately convened. Grand jury investigation. When we. Thanks to the incredible work of personnel who else attorney general here dedicate ourselves that this investigation. Is this a couple times here today. This is the opening step. The opening chapter I should say. It's these charges. We believe that there is still more to be written in this and as a result of this investigation. I hope the culture changes I hope that the leadership. In this town in response. To this makes the necessary changes that you didn't. We will continue to do our job along forced perspective. To insure that and made safe. It was. Very confident that they didn't mean this is the first time in Pittsburgh for a simple innocent as few years ago you lot. Was short from another grand jury and at least one of the people who's been charged now let's. Also with it. So they didn't do it plus on what they think it's. Danny fox and to do this. I know it we've taken this case much further than it's ever been. We take our responsibility. As chief law enforcement officers to come up listening very seriously. And I would expect. Any person. Position. Trust voters elected official and fish aren't with us. He's going to rise through challenging and do their job. And I also would expect that any public official. When information. How this. Its decades long abuse is going to come forward. And let us know what they know so that we can ensure that this does not continue to hurt us. I'd say that you take this investigation further than it's ever been and you say it this investigation has gone through other offices outside presence. And I can come. Piggybacking off one of those comments you made. You said there was no evidence. That any action was taken on anybody that reported this. That's the case so if they need to reporters basically squashed present level base earlier this week yes. You apparently still interviewing me better person. Although I'm certainly not get into our investigation any specifics of it I won't restate now it's for the third or fourth time this is very much ongoing investigation. Do you think our investigation perhaps dropped the ball on the again. President Clinton are also busy and didn't escape before and he does not charge. I appreciate your question really I can't speak to what other investigators to her room law enforcement agencies did I can just tell you our agency did. I can tell you what's what are posted and I think they've done humans were and I became recognized as I do our workers. Are there any concern that if that can be raised regarding that. He's charges I know people look at movies at Atlanta say. These accusations the facts here's. Baseball belongs here Jersey very respectful tone was more mature. Sometimes grand juries can make recommendations. Crack me wrong I'm. Situations. That they've done this case which I'm asked. You expect it possible future that we come. In any reason he talks about how people had trouble with this sort. On those people who. Or. And liberty people view this with an eight and would this artist I think this question. What he has to do it. I think that's a good question. Can you talk to the grand jury is currently. Comment on the he just is nonexistent to a workable Granger. If you had somebody was locked up today and we just say those who you ask questions that I can come I actually respect. Your righteous Christians that's where I'm still standing here appreciate. The the reason your subscriptions certainly is as you know you well know would mean in. When I can keep yes and if you don't look like it was in the lap going prison today. Would you feel comfortable with the corrections officers that are there in his race out there people receive increased. I think that's probably a better question for your your county commissioners account readership. Prison warden and others to be able to answer. Probably not for an official to to address this brings into question. That's what it's done locally it. We set up these special. Specifically prepared specifically for people who have information. We want them to this is aligned dedicated to them. And if they call it someone in the office of attorney general's office who. Received that call the other processes information and make sure that the person shares should he seek its. And the other question questions. Thank you all very much.