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Lackawanna County Prison Guard Accused Of Sexual Abuse Again Placed On Leave

August 10, 2018

A Lackawanna County Prison guard who returned to work after being cleared of allegations he sexually abused an inmate is again on paid administrative leave based on a new development, a county official said. Edward Williams was placed on paid leave in February 2017, based on a federal lawsuit that alleges he is among numerous guards who sexually abused inmates. He returned to work in March 2017, after Warden Tim Betti investigated claims against him and determined they could not be substantiated. Williams, who is not charged with any crime, remained on the job until Tuesday, when county officials were advised of new information relating to one woman’s claims in the lawsuit, said Donald Frederickson, the county’s acting chief of staff. Frederickson said he could not comment on the new information. He said the county opted to place Williams on leave out of an abundance of caution while the prison and the county’s human resources department further investigates the matter. Williams is among multiple guards named in a lawsuit Scranton attorney Matthew Comerford filed. The suit was initially filed in July 2016, on behalf of one woman. It was amended in December 2016, to add three additional plaintiffs. Two of the plaintiffs were dismissed from the case in December 2017, because their claims were outside of the statute of limitations. In the amended suit, one of the two women who remains as a plaintiff alleges Williams sexually harassed her. She also claims she was present when Williams, who is not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit, allegedly had sex with another inmate at a Scranton area hotel while she and the other woman were out in the community on work release. The Times-Tribune does not identify victims of sexual assault. Four of the defendants named in the suit — George T. McHale, Mark A. Johnson, James J. Walsh and John Shnipes Jr., — are among seven former guards arrested on Feb. 14, and charged with sexually abusing inmates. All are awaiting trial in Lackawanna County Court. Johnson also was placed on leave in June 2016, after Comerford provided county officials an advance copy of the original lawsuit. He returned to work in March 2017, after Betti cleared him. He was fired this March based on his arrest. Comerford filed a new suit on July 23 alleging Johnson abused another inmate after he returned to the job. Contact the writer: tbesecker@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9137; @tmbeseckerTT on Twitter.

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