County inmate charged in prison sexual assault

A Blair County Prison inmate faces charges that he sexually assaulted another prisoner.

According to charges filed by Hollidaysburg Borough police, 24-year-old Marcell A. Ellis allegedly groped another prisoner over his prison pants before reaching inside the back of the man’s pants and violating him with a finger.

Police indicated the alleged incident happened on May 11 inside a cell on J-block at the jail. The alleged victim was taken to UPMC Altoona for a sexual assault examination, and while he was in the emergency room, the inmate told police he was sitting in a cell with Ellis and another man when Ellis reached over and grabbed his crotch over his clothing.

Ellis then put his hand down the back of the in­mate’s pants and inserted a finger.

The alleged victim told police that he stopped the assault, but Ellis took his shoes and “he had to flash his penis to Ellis” to get the shoes back, police noted.

During the investigation, police spoke to several other inmates that the alleged victim had talked to about the assault, although the inmate in whose cell it was to have occurred “was reluctant to provide any details of the incident,” Hollidaysburg police Officer Mark Lingafelt wrote in the affidavit of probable cause.

Police also have a phone recording of the alleged victim calling his girlfriend where he talked about being assaulted.

Another inmate confirmed to police the victim’s claim that Ellis held his finger up to his face when he walked into the cell after the incident, telling the inmate to smell his finger, police added.

Ellis was arraigned Friday before Magisterial District Judge Paula Aigner on a felony count of aggravated indecent assault and a misdemeanor count of indecent assault. He was re­mand­ed to Blair County Pri­son with bail set at 10 per­cent of $25,000.

Ellis is currently serving a six- to 12-month sentence for a theft conviction last October. In November, he was sentenced to 18 months’ probation after pleading guilty to simple assault stemming from a June 2017 assault of another inmate at Blair County Prison, where Ellis was charged with two other prisoners.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 29 in Hollidaysburg District Court.

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