Jury acquits former prison guard of sexually abusing inmate

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — A former Pennsylvania prison guard has been acquitted of charges that he sexually abused two inmates.

The (Scranton) Times-Tribune reported that jurors deliberated for an hour Thursday before clearing former Lackawanna County Prison guard Mark Johnson of institutional sexual assault and other offenses.

One of the accusers testified that Johnson repeatedly forced her to engage in sex acts in return for items from the jail's store. Johnson's attorney attacked the woman's credibility and pointed out inconsistencies in her testimony.

Johnson was one of seven guards charged with sexually abusing inmates at the prison in Scranton. A jury acquitted one guard in February, two guards pleaded no contest to official oppression, and prosecutors withdrew charges against a guard. The other two cases are pending.

State prosecutors have alleged a culture of sexual coercion and cover-up at the prison.