Guards at a Pennsylvania prison are accused of organizing inmate fights and challenges, which they allegedly referred to as "Retard Olympics."
According to state police, three corrections officers at York County Prison are facing charges in connection with the case.
Daniel H. Graff, 37, Mark Andrew Haynes, 26, and David Michael Whitcomb, 28, face charges of official oppression and are on unpaid administrative leave, police said.
"The corrections officers arranged fights and stunts to take place under the promise that if the inmates competed or won, they would get extra food and extra coffee," Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Robert Hicks told The Huffington Post.
The "fights and stunts" to which Hicks refers are detailed in statements given to police by inmates David Michael Wright and James Williams Hicks Jr., no relation to Robert Hicks.
The incidents allegedly occurred between January and July, Robert Hicks said.
In a written statement to police, Wright, 27, said the first incident occurred when Graff, Haynes and Whitcomb arranged for him to wrestle James Hicks, also 27. The men were allegedly promised lounge food and extra coffee if they won. Wright said he won that first match and as a result James Hicks was no longer permitted to keep his job as a hall worker.
Wright also alleged that he was told to wrestle Graff in a storage closet.
"He cut my air supply off, so I dropped him on the ground and he said enough, enough," Wright wrote in his statement to police.
The inmate also claimed he was offered food in exchange for allowing Whitcomb to punch him in the leg and give him a "dead leg," meaning the inmate's leg would go numb for a short period of time. Wright said he allowed the officer to punch him in the leg and arm, but never received payment.
Graph also allegedly failed to follow through on a promise to give Wright coffee for allowing the corrections officer to spray pepper foam in his face.
In his own statement to police, James Hicks told authorities the fights and challenges, which he said were consensual, were called the "Retard Olympics." He said he would do "stupid stuff for food and coffee."
That "stupid stuff," James Hicks alleged, included, drinking a gallon of milk in an hour, eating a spoon full of cinnamon, snorting a line of spicy vegetable powder and drinking a bottle of water with pepper spray foam in it.
Unlike Wright, James Hicks said he received his food and coffee rewards whenever he successfully completed a challenge.
According to Robert Hicks, officials at the prison uncovered the illegal activities during an unrelated internal investigation into criminal mischief that was occurring in the south block of the prison.
"They pulled up one of the video cameras and as they were looking at some of the footage, they noticed one of the correctional officers –- one of the three that has been charged –- grab an inmate by the neck and pull him away.
Prison officials went to the inmate and asked him why the correctional officer did that and it was through the course of that interview that all these other things came to light about the fighting and the stunts," Robert Hicks said.
Speaking with the York Daily Record on Saturday, Graff and Whitcomb denied any wrongdoing.
"They've been telling other inmates that they're going to sue the York County Prison for millions of dollars. Personally, I think this is what this is," Graff said.
Whitcomb said the allegations are "complete fabrications."
"I did not participate in any of it and I did not witness any of this," he told the York Daily Record. "There is no physical evidence ... [or] medical records. They didn't file any complaints when it was supposed to have happened. This is all on the word of an inmate. It blows my mind."
Both men said they have filed a grievance about their suspensions with their union, Local 776 of the Teamsters.
James Hicks and Wright both have lengthy criminal records, the York Daily Record reported. Wright has multiple arrests, including charges of escape, theft, possession of drug paraphernalia and making false reports to authorities. James Hicks' record includes charges for child pornography, theft, corruption of minors and burglary.
The York County Prison released a statement about the alleged incidents on Friday.
"The actions alleged by Pennsylvania State Police in this case run counter to the professional behavior county and prison management expect and require of all staff. Misconduct within any county agency is not tolerated," the statement said.
According to Robert Hicks, charges in the case have been filed, but the accused officers have not yet been processed or taken into police custody. The case, he said, is being reviewed by Magisterial District Judge Barry L. Bloss Jr.
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