HARRISBURG — Following the arrest last month of seven Lackawanna County prison guards for their roles in a pervasive culture of institutional sexual assault of women inmates over many years, Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that two more guards who had preliminary hearings this week were ordered held for trial.
John Shnipes and Jeffrey Staff face criminal charges of institutional sexual assault after the Office of Attorney General’s year-long investigation into Lackawanna County prison guards who used their positions of authority to manipulate and dominate female inmates, perpetuating a culture of sexual abuse and assault at the prison that continued for many years.
Shnipes also faces felony charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and aggravated indecent assault. Earlier this week, the preliminary hearing of a third defendant, George Efthimiou, was continued because prosecutors plan to add charges against him. James Walsh, another guard, was previously held for trial. Preliminary hearings for the other three guards have been continued. The investigation is active and ongoing.
“We believe there may be other victims or witnesses,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “You don’t have to be afraid. I’m asking you to call a Special Hotline we’ve set up to hear from you. If you have any information about this culture of sexual assault at the prison, call us at 570-846-4074. We’ve already heard from some people in positions of power in the county about this culture of abuse. Now, we want to hear from you.”
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Simquita Bridges and Deputy Attorney General Rebecca Elo.
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