More ex-inmates testify against Nicoletti

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Two former inmates of the State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh today testified against former corrections officer Harry F. Nicoletti Jr. during his trial on 89 criminal counts of sex abuse.

Mr. Nicoletti's defense attorney portrayed the men as conspirators who shared notes and are seeking damages.

The Post-Gazette does not name people who say they are victims of sexual assault.

One of the inmates, a 36-year-old transgender man, has been convicted of many crimes, mostly thefts. He said that Mr. Nicoletti three times came into his cells on SCI Pittsburgh's F Block and raped him.

"I didn't report anything," the former inmate tesified. "I just wanted to forget it, suppress it, and not think about it anymore."

He said the memories rushed back after he was approached by Department of Corrections internal investigators, who scoured the prison system interviewing former F Block inmates. He later filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court airing numerous grievances, including the alleged rapes. After that attorneys approached him and took up the case.

"You, in fact, have leveled sexual abuse allegations against correctional officers before," said Steve Colafella, the attorney for Mr. Nicoletti.

The inmate admitted that he had accused two corrections officers of sexually abusing him previously, resulting in their arrests and the filing of civil court papers.

Charges against those officers were dropped, as was the inmate's civil case.

The other former F Block inmate to testify this afternoon said that Mr. Nicoletti subjected him to forceible oral sex four times. Mr. Colafella grilled him on a prison grievance he filed demanding $500,000 in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages.

"Is that what you want?" Mr. Colafella asked.

"It's about me trying to recover from the psychological and emotional damage," the man said.

Mr. Colafella said the two accusers who testified today had shared notes on their allegations while they were both housed at SCI Somerset.

Mr. Nicoletti, 61, of Coraopolis, is the central figure in a series of prosecutions for alleged abuse of inmates -- mostly those considered pedophiles or homosexuals -- on F Block in 2010. None of the other corrections officers were accused of sexual abuses. Three had charges dropped, one was convicted on four criminal counts and two await trail.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord


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