In the January, 2001, issue of PLN we reported the New York Court of Appeals' ruling that upheld an arbitrator's decision to continue the employment of Edward Kuhnel, a prison guard at the Eastern Correctional Facility in Napanoch.
Kuhnel had been suspended by prison officials for flying a large Nazi flag from the porch of his home, which was widely reported in local media. Kuhnel was paid a total of $110,575 for the 2 1/2 years he was not working as the state appealed his suspension.
In 1988 the New York Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) had tried to fire Kuhnel after he was accused of distributing literature from the National Association for the Advancement of White People to prisoners and staff at the prison. An arbitrator ordered him restored to duty and awarded Kuhnel $8,941 in back pay.
On April 11, 2001, Kuhnel, 44, surrendered to police and was arraigned on three counts of sodomy and one count of official misconduct in Ulster County. In the indictment, prosecutors claim that on two separate occasions in May, 2000, Kuhnel engaged in acts of sodomy with a male prisoner at the Eastern Correctional Facility.
Prosecutors claim that on a separate occasion he attempted to engage in an act of sodomy with the same prisoner. On all occasions Kuhnel relied on his position as a prison guard to have sexual contact with the prisoner, which resulted in the official misconduct charge.
New York is among the states which criminalize sex between prisoners and staff. In addition to the criminal charges, the DOCS is once again seeking to fire Kuhnel and has suspended him pending the outcome of his criminal trial.
Kuhnel has been employed by the DOCS since 1980 when he was hired as a cook; he became a guard in 1981. The male prisoner victim of the alleged sodomy was not identified due to the nature of the crimes, but he has since been released from prison on parole.
Source: Associated Press.
As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login