3 inmates charged with falsely accusing Westmoreland jail guard of threatening sex assault

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Jul. 22—Police said three men made false claims that a guard at the Westmoreland County Prison threatened to sexually assault one of them in March, according to court paperwork.

Westmoreland County detectives this week charged Joshua James Robison, 25, of Irwin; Nicholas John Grindle, 34, of Jeannette; and Paul Andrew Pierce, 37, of Charleroi, with unsworn falsification to authorities, false reports and conspiracy.

Detectives were requested to investigate a complaint Grindle made April 14 under the Prison Rape Elimination Act, claiming that a guard threatened to sexually assault him a month earlier at the Hempfield jail, according to court papers. Four other inmates, including Pierce and Robison, submitted complaints about the incident the same day, police said.

Both men claimed the guard made sexual comments toward Grindle, who refused to provide any information to detectives investigating his report.

A confidential informant requested to talk to detectives six days later and said the guard in question was being "a bit cantankerous with a few inmates" and the prisoners agreed to lodge PREA complaints against him, according to his statement to authorities.

Jail officials told detectives Grindle was making false PREA reports against some guards, according to court papers. All such complaints must be investigated, detectives said.

Robison was arraigned Thursday and is being held in the jail on $25,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is set for July 30. He did not have an attorney listed in online court records.

Arrest warrants were issued for Grindle and Pierce. Grindle has been an inmate at the jail since February after he was arrested on strangulation and related offenses in connection with a Jeannette incident. While in jail, he was charged with threatening to sexually assault a female guard and was sentenced Wednesday to five to 12 months, according to jail and court records.

Pierce was in jail at the time on two assault cases. He was sentenced in May to three to 23 months and is no longer an inmate, according to jail and court records.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, rsignorini@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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