Case Against Former Corrections Officer Headed to Trial

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SCRANTON, Pa. -- The case against a former corrections officer from Lackawanna County is headed to trial. He is one of seven corrections officers to face accusations of sexual assault.

On Tuesday, a preliminary hearing was held for Jeff Staff, a former corrections officer at the Lackawanna County Prison. Lawyers heard testimony from a former inmate who claims that she and Staff had a sexual relationship.

Jeff Staff headed into the Lackawanna County Courthouse Tuesday to face his accuser for the first time since his arrest.

Staff and six of his former coworkers, all former Lackawanna County corrections officers, were arrested on various charges all alleging sexual assault on female inmates at the prison.

A former inmate testified in court that Staff reached out to her on Facebook. She was allowed to have a cell phone when she was out on work release.

The two arranged to meet for sex when the inmate was supposed to be at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

She testified that she and Staff continued a relationship even after she was released from the prison.

Staff's defense attorney told Newswatch 16 that state prosecutors have not been able to prove that the woman was actually an inmate when the relationship started, despite a raid last year that collected decades worth of documents from the prison and the county's work release office.

"Just because the size of the raid doesn't always produce big results. Sometimes, big splash, no cash. And that's usually, sometimes, what happens. And at the end of the day, he has one charge filed against him, based on the accusations of one individual who has spent almost one-third of her life in prison for theft-related offenses, and now she's making accusations against him," said defense attorney Corey Kolcharno.

A magistrate decided those accusations were enough to carry the case on to trial.

"We have to trust in the system now to vindicate him. He's a person who has worked at that prison honorably, without any write-ups, any problems whatsoever for 17 years," Kolcharno added.

Staff was the third of the seven accused officers to be in court since their arrests last month. Earlier this month, all of them were fired from their jobs at the Lackawanna County Prison.

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