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Fayette County prison guards blamed for attack on inmate from Pittsburgh

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Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010
 

A Pittsburgh man accused in a child-predator sting claims Fayette County prison guards left his cell door open so other inmates could beat him, leaving him with a broken nose and damaged vision.

James Joseph Adams, 24, of 272 A Preston St., Crafton, is awaiting trial on charges of attempted statutory sexual assault, attempted indecent assault on a person under age 16, attempted corruption of minors, and attempted unlawful contact with a minor.

Detective Lawrence Curry alleges Adams traveled to a Walgreens pharmacy in Uniontown on Oct. 29, 2007, to meet a purported 13-year-old girl for sex. Adams arranged the meeting after engaging in sexually explicit conversations over the Internet with the purported teenager, who was a South Connellsville police officer posing undercover, according to a criminal complaint.

Adams was taken into custody and placed in the Fayette County Prison after approaching a 19-year-old woman, who was posing as a decoy, inside the pharmacy, according to court records.

Adams is seeking to have the charges dismissed on the grounds that, since the 13-year-old girl did not exist, no crime was committed.

In a federal civil rights lawsuit filed against Fayette County on Monday in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, Adams alleges prison guards told other inmates the nature of the charges against him, then intentionally left his cell door open so he could be beaten.

In the suit, attorney Joel S. Sansone of Pittsburgh claims other inmates spat on Adams, repeatedly punched him, and stole his eyeglasses.

Adams "was repeatedly mocked, taunted and insulted by various inmates, who asked plaintiff over and over again if he had raped a little girl, as well as other questions to that effect," the lawsuit said. Due to "the content of the taunts and insults, plaintiff believes ...sentence confidential information regarding plaintiff's arrest and detention had been improperly and unlawfully shared with various inmates by various unidentified jail officials."

Sansone claims guards did nothing to stop the abuse in Adams' cell, which was monitored by a video camera.

Adams said he sustained a broken nose, cuts, bruises, blurred and double vision in the alleged attacks. Damage to his vision may be permanent, the suit said.

Sansone alleges Fayette County is liable because it failed to properly train and supervise the guards. He claims Adams' Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure, his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, and his 14th Amendment right to due process were violated.

The suit is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

Brian Miller, deputy warden for Fayette County, could not be reached for comment.

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