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PA- Ex-guard gets probation for forcing inmates to sing nursery rhymes, bark like dogs

2-24-2009 Pennsylvania:

A former corrections officer at Westmoreland County Prison will serve probation after pleading guilty Monday to forcing inmates to kneel and sing nursery rhymes and bark like dogs.

Scott A. Rogers, 39, of Mt. Pleasant was a 10-year guard before he was charged with three misdemeanor charges of official oppression. He was sentenced yesterday to serve nine months on probation by Westmoreland County Judge Rita Hathaway.

He could have received maximum sentences of two years in prison for each offense.

Assistant District Attorney Karen Patterson said the penalty, which was part of a negotiated plea bargain with Rogers, was within the standard range of sentences he was eligible to receive under state sentencing guidelines. Rogers had no previous criminal record.

Police said Rogers, while working at the county jail between April 1 and June 30, 2007, forced three inmates to kneel to the ground and sing songs, such as "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and the alphabet song, forward and backward.

In addition, inmates said they were forced to bark.

Patterson said those inmates were being held in a unit of the jail that housed mental health patients and sex offenders.

In July 2007, after he was fired by the Westmoreland County Prison Board, Rogers claimed he was being singled out by officials.

He offered no explanations in court yesterday.

"I just want to get it over with," Rogers said.

Rogers was formally charged in September 2007, two months after he was fired. In December of that year, the prison board rescinded the termination, allowing Rogers to resign. County officials claimed that move would protect the county from a lawsuit filed by Rogers if he was acquitted of the criminal charges. ..News Source.. by Rich Cholodofsky, TRIBUNE-REVIEW

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