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Warden replaced amid investigation into harassment, 'inappropriate relations' at Maine State Prison

Elizabeth Noble
Maine State Prison in Warren in 2013.

A six-month investigation into allegations of harassment, hazing and retaliation by and among employees at the Maine State Prison in Warren has resulted in a leadership shakeup, at least temporarily.

Warden Matthew Magnussun has been replaced "pending further investigation."

For months, several incarcerated residents of the Maine State Prison say they were aware of allegations of misconduct by staff.

On Tuesday, they say they were unexpectedly put in a lockdown and then learned that the warden had been replaced. And on Wednesday, following a request for comment from Maine Public Radio, the Department of Corrections released a statement from Commissioner Randall Liberty.

In it, Liberty says the department was made aware in August of alleged "harassment, hazing and retaliation among employees" as well as "inappropriate relations between employees and residents."

He says the DOC took immediate action and launched a comprehensive investigation that remains ongoing. Because confidential personnel matters are involved, Liberty is prohibited from offering additional details. But he confirmed that James Hancox, a 15-year veteran of the prison, is serving as acting warden. And he says the Department does not tolerate misconduct and takes extremely seriously any allegations of misconduct.

"We feel it is important to recognize the exceptional work and commitment to professionalism exhibited by the vast majority of employees," Liberty wrote. "The actions taken in response to the allegations are in support of those employees and residents in their care."