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Inquiry Stepped up in Georgia Prison Sex Case

Authorities in Georgia said they have intensified an investigation into alleged sexual abuse at a Georgia women's prison after 14 current and former state corrections employees were indicted on rape and sexual assault charges.

A grand jury returned the indictments after prosecutors laid out the accusations in graphic detail. The indictments came more than eight months after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) began probing allegations that officers had sexually abused inmates at the Georgia Women's Correctional Institution in Hardwick.

The GBI initiated its investigation after more than 100 inmates spoke out as part of a 1984 lawsuit filed against the prison. The suit claimed female inmates were subjected to rape, sodomy and other sexual assaults. Prison employees coerced inmates into prostituting themselves, trading sex for favors, and in some cases forced prisoners to have abortions, the suit said.

The defendants named in the indictments, 10 men and four women, were all arrested last November. Of the 14, six were fired, six quit, and two have been suspended. Additional indictments are likely, including some from the Milan Women's Center and the Washington Correctional Institution.

Robert Cullen, an attorney for the inmates, said he was "heartened" by the indictments but a "high level of sexual abuse continues to occur" in the state's prison for women.

Since March of 1992, more than 100 inmates have taken polygraph tests or given sworn statements implicating about 50 employees at the three prisons. In the past eight months, nine employees have been fired, while nine have resigned rather than be fired. Another four have been transferred and six suspended, four of them without pay.

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