Former prison counselor charged with sexual assault of 2 inmates

Pennsylvania

A former counselor at a jail in Scranton is charged with institutional sexual assault for abusing her authority and engaging in sexual acts with two male inmates, authorities said.

Samantha Heinrich, 36, is the eighth Lackawanna County Prison employee charged for her role in what state prosecutors call a “culture of sexual abuse” within the prison.

The state attorney general’s office said Heinrich was assigned as a counselor to one of the victims and began making sexual comments to him as soon as they met. She often made excuses to be alone with the inmate for the purpose of sexual contact.

Heinrich later had a sexual relationship with another inmate to whom she was not assigned, prosecutors said.

One inmate said he continued to have sex with Heinrich because he feared he would lose his job in the prison kitchen, according to charging documents.

The prison was eventually notified of Heinrich’s conduct and began an investigation. A search of her office computer turned up inappropriate photos of her in various stages of undress, authorities said.

​​​​Heinrich resigned from her position at the prison in 2017.

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