SCRANTON -- Allegations of sexual abuse at the Lackawanna County Prison brought a crowd to Wednesday's meeting of the prison board. They came to demand an independent investigation, instead of the one being overseen by the prison board.
Earlier this month, the prison board announced its own investigation after allegations of sexual abuse and a cover up. Six corrections officers are already being investigated by the District Attorney's office. They're accused of sexually assaulting a female inmate.
Right now, only the current warden is being investigated by the prison board.
"I was robbed last year and the guy who robbed me may very well end up in here someday and I would expect him to be punished, not abused, not tortured and not taken advantage of in any way," said Joan Hodowanitz of Scranton.
Many of the questions and concerns from residents inside the meeting were about whether or not a special investigator from outside Lackawanna County should be brought in. The prison board previously appointed Amil Minora, a Scranton-based civil attorney, to investigate.
"I want you to tell me how you can represent my child and charge the perpetrator," asked one woman named Cheryl at the meeting. Cheryl was the only member of the public at the previous prison board meeting. Her son is an inmate.
Corrections officer Scott Blume was charged with assault earlier this month for allegedly spraying the genitals of Cheryl's son with pepper spray. Alone no more, Cheryl says she won't stop speaking out until justice is served.
"I'm thrilled," she said. "It was just me. And I was embarrassed and shy and now I'm here and everyone is coming out slowly but surely."
Toward the end of the meeting, Lackawanna County Commissioner Laureen Cummings did address one person's concerns about the amount of time it takes to investigate, pointing out that the investigation into the warden needs to be completed first. That way, county leaders can decide if the warden is able to cooperate with any further investigations into certain officers.