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Guard Convicted in Prison Sex Assaults

April 30, 2002

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Guard Convicted in Prison Sex Assaults

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by Artemis Coughlan

DOYLESTOWN BOROUGH, Pa. - After deliberating for a little more than an hour yesterday, a jury found a former Bucks County Correctional Facility counselor guilty of institutional sexual assault upon female inmates.

Peter J. Doyle, 33, of the 300 block of Dell Avenue, Warminster, was charged with five counts of assault, which occurred in his office in the women's facility at least since April 2000, according to court records.

A county grand jury investigating a drug overdose death of an inmate last year uncovered the scandal involving several guards when the inmates spoke of sexual improprieties.

In his closing arguments, prosecutor Gary Gambardella told the jury the inmates were exposed to "Doyle's Law" in that they were his personal sex slaves.

"They were in there and were supposed to be rehabilitated but they came in contact with him," Gambardella said.

Defense attorney John Kerrigan told the jury in his closing arguments that the inmates were convicted criminals who would say anything to get cigarettes, preferential treatment, or into a work release program or rehabilitation center.

"The perception of these women in the prison is if one inmate sees another talking to a detective and sees that the next day that inmate is on work release, they're going to talk to a detective and mention sex," Kerrigan said.

"Who else are they going to name as the target of these assaults other than the one person who is with them every day in the prison? He's the ideal target. The alleged victims here are all capable of lying as they're convicted criminals."

Gambardella disagreed.

"If these (victims) are going to lie, they're not going to say he touched . . . me, they're going to go with a big story. There's no evidence of conspiracy (among the inmates) here."

Judge Kenneth G. Biehn deferred sentencing until May 5. Doyle faces up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine, Gambardella said.

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