Tyrell Harris-McLaughlin: Guard, 28, charged with raping inmate at NJ women’s prison
HUNTERDON COUNTY, NEW JERSEY: A senior correctional officer, Tyrell Harris-McLaughlin, 28, at a New Jersey prison for women was charged with sexually assaulting an inmate, authorities reported. The officer at the troubled Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women was arrested Wednesday, October 13 on charges of sexual assault and official misconduct, acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck noted. The alleged attack took place on September 16.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, the female inmate told prison staff days after the alleged assault that McLaughlin raped her. The affidavit states that semen was collected from the woman at a hospital and it matched Harris-McLaughlin’s DNA. Harris-McLaughlin had "supervisory or disciplinary power" at the time over the female inmate at the lockup in rural Hunterdon County that houses about 370 prisoners.
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"Anyone in custody is entitled to be free from sexual or other assaults, " Office of Public Integrity and Accountability Executive Director Thomas Eichler said. "When law enforcement officers assault and exploit those subject to their authority, as alleged here, we will ensure that they are fully investigated and prosecuted." Governor Phil Murphy had announced in June that New Jersey would shut the women’s prison after a series of sexual abuse charges and violent raids by guards. He blasted the latest allegations as "disgusting". "This is tragically not the first [incident]. It has been building for two, three decades and it has been kicked down the can. We are not going to kick it down the can anymore. We are closing this thing, " Murphy said.
The prison in question had already been under scrutiny after a federal report cited years of sexual abuse of inmates when a series of "cell extractions" in January led to charges against 10 guards and employees. The legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in New Jersey, Jeanne LoCicero said the October 13 arrest was "doubly shocking" since the alleged rape occurred as the prison was under the scrutiny of the Department of Justice. "This speaks to how deeply broken our state prison system is and how closed off staff members have been from public view and accountability, " he said.
Jersey City native, Harris-McLaughlin joined the Department of Corrections in 2019. He reportedly did not have an attorney listed as of Wednesday, October 13 afternoon. Harris-McLaughlin faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, authorities stated.