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Accused sex torturer attempts suicide

LOCKPORT – Iver J. Phallen, the accused Lewiston sex torturer awaiting trial on more than 200 counts of sexual abuse and assault against three women, attempted suicide early Wednesday in the Niagara County Jail.

Phallen, 67, was said to be in stable condition in Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport later in the day, although the hospital would not confirm that. However, Sheriff James R. Voutour, who confirmed the suicide attempt, said Phallen “is expected to be released and back to our custody.”

The Buffalo News learned that Phallen used a metal object to cut himself on the arms and the inner thigh about 9 a.m. in his cell.

The sheriff said Phallen was in “general population” – a regular cell – at the time of the incident. Inmates are checked every 30 minutes, Voutour said, and a corrections officer making an extra check discovered the suicide attempt.

The News learned that Phallen was fully conscious when he was discovered and the incident didn’t appear to be life-threatening.

Phallen’s attorney, James W. Grable Jr., learned of the suicide attempt from a reporter. He immediately headed for the jail, but he wasn’t told much.

Grable said of Phallen, “He pled not guilty. He’s been incarcerated without bail. He lost his father while he was incarcerated. Especially this time of year, I’m sure the stress of it was overwhelming.”

Grable and the prosecutors in the case are scheduled to appear before Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Monday morning, although the court calendar specifies that Phallen was not to be brought to court for the session.

The topic will be the reduction of the size of the indictments. Sheldon had directed the sides to reduce the two indictments, totaling 209 counts, to a more manageable number for use in a jury trial currently scheduled for Jan. 25.

Phallen, a retired business owner, is accused of taking three women in their early 20s to his townhouse on Carriage Lane in Lewiston, where, on three different dates, they were allegedly bound, gagged and sexually abused.