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Prosecutor: Nearly all complaints of abuse at Portage County Jail were 'wholly fabricated or greatly exaggerated'

Officials say only one claim was substantiated, & the accused individual in that case later resigned.
Credit: 3News

RAVENNA, Ohio — Prosecutors have declined to file any criminal charges against staff members at the Portage County Jail following a months-long investigation into allegations of mistreatment, claiming such allegations were without merit.

In a statement issued Sunday, the county prosecutor's office said all but one of the 23 claims made against the jail were either "wholly fabricated or greatly exaggerated accounts of minor or unrelated incidents." Officials say former inmate Brett McClafferty prepared several phony complaints for the current inmates to give investigators while serving a still-ongoing sentence at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut, and that several witnesses later recanted their claims.

According to prosecutors, only one incident from November of 2013 was found to be true, and in that case the corrections officer involved ended up resigning under pressure from Sheriff Dave Doak. Details regarding that incident or any of the other seemingly false claims made were not released to the public.

Vigliucci's office is now investigating whether charges will be filed against McClafferty or others for making false statements. In his own statement issued Wednesday, Doak applauded the work of Vigliucci and other local and federal investigators while attacking McClafferty's "self-serving" statements and lawsuit, adding:

"For the last eighteen months, allegations of inmate abuse wrongfully diminished public confidence in the Portage County Sheriff's Office and besmirched the reputations of hard-working corrections officers and staff. It has been my position since the allegations arose that the PCSO would be vindicated. The investigation by the Lake County Sheriff's Office and the FBI does just that."

In remarks made to the Record-Courier, McClafferty said he had sworn statements from other witnesses and called the timing of the prosecutor's office's press released "incredibly suspicious" while calling on the full records to be released. Citing its own investigative reporting, the paper countered it had not appeared to have found any evidence to back McClafferty's accusations of abuse.

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