Former Nebraska Corrections employee appears in court

Nebraska warden arrest
Nebraska warden arrest
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 10:17 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2022 at 9:26 AM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - The day after Nebraska State Patrol troopers led a longtime corrections employee off the property, an assistant warden went from working at a state prison to becoming an inmate at the Lancaster County Jail.

Sarah Nelson Torsiello appeared in front of a Lancaster County judge via video conference Wednesday. The appearance lasted 34 seconds. Judge Dalton followed the state’s recommendation and set bond for her at $10,000.

The high-level supervisor of what used to be called Diagnostics and Evaluation in Lincoln left the facility Tuesday afternoon in handcuffs. The 46-year-old was booked on suspicion of two felonies: sexual abuse of an inmate and unauthorized communication with a prisoner.

The Nebraska Department of Corrections said it didn't have data on staffers arrested for inappropriate contact with inmates readily available.

Sources tell 6 News the incident in question revolves around an inmate serving a life sentence for murder in Omaha more than a decade ago.

The specifics of the allegations are unclear as paperwork has yet to be filed at the courthouse. But based on the state statute, any sexual contact between employee and inmate — even if it’s consensual — fits the definition of sexual abuse of an inmate.

6 News learned the same inmate years ago spent months separated from other inmates at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Tecumseh for essentially shaking down family members of other inmates for money.

Court documents indicate the inmate would tell them to pay up if you “don’t want nothing to happen to the dude.”

As for Torsiello, she’s been with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services in a variety of capacities since 2003.

The assistant warden resigned her position. She’s due back in court in a month.

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