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JUDGE DENIES NEW TRIAL IN JAIL ABUSE CASE

A federal judge has refused to grant a new trial to an Orleans County Sheriff's Department lieutenant who was convicted of torturing a mentally impaired prisoner in the county jail.

U.S. District Judge John T. Curtin set Sept. 11 as the sentencing date for John Walsh Jr., 38, who was convicted, after a trial last year, of repeatedly stomping on the exposed penis of a prisoner.

Curtin said Walsh's treatment of prisoner Norvin Fowlks was "repugnant to the conscience of mankind," and he sees no legal reason to set aside the verdict.

"From the evidence, these acts were not spontaneous, but rather were routine and deliberate. Walsh stepped on Fowlks' penis three different times," Curtin wrote in his decision.

Curtin noted that a jail officer and two former officers all testified that they saw the 395-pound Walsh stepping on Fowlks' penis in 1991.

Walsh's attorney, Terrence M. Connors, said his client will probably appeal.

Walsh, who has been suspended since his conviction, continues to deny the allegations.

Walsh could face up to 37 months in prison.

The attacks on Fowlks were part of a series of incidents that led the U.S. Justice Department's top civil rights prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Bill Lann Lee, to issue a report in January, citing the jail for having "unconstitutional conditions" and "serious problems." County officials said they are addressing the problems.

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