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Instructor At NJ Women's Prison Charged With Witness Tampering Day Of Inmate Testimonies

women's prison
women's prison Photo Credit: Pixabay

A trade instructor at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Hunterdon County was charged with witness tampering in an undisclosed 2018 crime.

Devon E. Vassell, 54, of East Orange, was arrested Wednesday in connection with the incident, Acting Hunterdon County Prosecutor Michael J. Williams and Chief of Detectives Frank R. Crisologo said.

Vassell's arrest occurred the same day six former inmates shared details of abuse by prison guards during a Trenton hearing. The women said they were sexually assaulted and groped by guards.

One guard was dubbed "King of the Cottage," who would let himself into a cottage where former inmate Alyssa Feldman was assigned while serving a six-month sentence, and sexually assault her, she said at the hearing.

Marianne Brown said she was serving a 21-year sentence for kidnapping when she asked a guard for a roll of toilet paper, stored among stacks in a room at the facility.

"What are you going to do for me?" he replied, according to Brown.

It took a few moments, but Brown quickly realized what he meant: "Are you going to give them oral sex?" she testified.

The U.S. Justice Department found decades-long sexual abuse at the prison, according to a report released earlier this year. Despite the arrests of several corrections officers, the abuse continued -- and efforts to fix things proved futile.

Vassell has worked at the prison since March 2016 as an institutional trade instructor. His court appearance is scheduled for Monday.

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