It reads like the script for a brutal prison drama: Three former prison guards are accused of running a jailhouse “Fight Club” and forcing inmates to endure bizarre punishments.
The trial got under way this week in York, Pennsylvania, in the case of Daniel Graff, David Whitcomb, Jr., and Mark Haynes, former corrections officer at the York County Jail.
All three deny the charges, according to reporting by PennLive, which is covering the trial.
The details of the allegations are already public as the three were named among 11 prison guards in a civil complaint brought by a former inmate, David Wright.
According to the complaint, filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Wright and two others disclosed the alleged "fight club" when quizzed by captains who were investigating damage to prison furniture in June 2013.
According to the complaint, the so-called "Retard Olympics" and the "Fight Club" were run by the corrections officers and inmates were compelled to wrestle with each other, “consume large amounts of milk until they vomit,” “consume large amounts of cinnamon until they vomit,” “consume water contaminated by pepper foam,” and “consume ‘soups’ that contained spoiled food and chemicals used for cleaning.”
Wright was an inmate at the York County Prison from May 20, 2013 to June 30, 2013.
The complaint says that defendants knew that Wright had been diagnosed with mental illnesses, including depressive disorder and dissociative disorder, and says he was targeted because of his mental illnesses. Though Wright consented to participating in the fight club, his consent was “not voluntary.”
Wright was allegedly promised additional food and privileges if he participated, although he says he never received these rewards.
“Corruptions abuse cases happen,” Wright’s attorney, Devon M. Jacob told NBC News. “But in the context of playing off of a person’s disabilities — that was a unique twist.”
The civil complaint also says that the defendants failed to preserve the video and audio recordings of the alleged actions, footage that may have helped the prosecution’s case.
The civil case is still pending while the criminal case against the three officers is expected to last until the weekend.