The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

April 24, 2014

Inmate faces sex charges

EBENSBURG — An Altoona man was charged with rape after authorities accused him of sexually assaulting another man while both were inmates at the Cambria County Prison.

County detectives charged Russell Lee Harold III, 26, with two counts each of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault and one count of sexual assault.

In a criminal complaint, detectives said the incident took place April 12 in a cell housing two men.

The alleged victim was removed from the cell after he slipped a letter to a corrections officer, police said.

The man was treated at Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown.

Police said Harold admitted assaulting the other man.

Harold was arraigned Tuesday by on-call District Judge Michael Musulin of Johnstown, who set bond at $50,000.

Change in reporting

The incident comes at a time when the prison is changing the way inmates can report sexual assaults.

The Cambria County commissioners on Thursday approved an agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to provide a telephone re­porting mechanism for the prison.

Inmates can now use the phone system to report attacks by calling a phone number posted in the housing units, Warden John Prebish said.

“They (alleged victims) can report it without worrying about doing it in front of employees,” Prebish said.

Corrections personnel will provide counseling for victims, he said.

The telephone rape reporting system is required by the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003.

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on twitter.com/PatBuchnowskiTD.

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