2 plead guilty to charges stemming from inmate assault

WEST LIBERTY, Ky. (AP) – Two former correctional officers at an eastern Kentucky prison have pleaded guilty to charges related to the assault of a restrained inmate, authorities said.

James D. Benish, 36, and Randy L. Nickell, 54, admitted that they witnessed fellow officers assault a nonviolent inmate who was lying face down in a prison shower cell wearing handcuffs and leg shackles, the Justice Department said in a statement Monday.

Benish pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of an inmate’s civil rights and Nickell pleaded guilty to three counts of obstruction of justice, the department said. Benish admitted that he was present during the assault and failed to intervene. Nickell admitted that he falsified records and lied to investigators, authorities said.

Two other former officers have also pleaded guilty to charges in the case. The inmate who was assaulted wasn’t identified.

Benish and Nickell are scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 11. Benish faces up to 10 years in prison and Nickell faces up to 20 years for each charge, authorities said.

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