DA, defense disagree on prison abuse claims

Updated:

PITTSBURGH (AP) (AP)ong> - A prosecutor said a former Pittsburgh state prison guard is on trial for allegedly physically and sexually abusing inmates because he abused his power to feed his "demented desires."

But 61-year-old Harry Nicoletti's defense attorney Steve Colafella claims his client is the victim of a prison rumor mill that functions something like Facebook behind bars -- "a non-computerized social network."

That's how attorneys described the case against Nicoletti to a jury in their opening statements Wednesday.

Nicoletti allegedly sexually assaulted and physically abused more than 20 inmates, mostly those serving time for child molestation or those who were homosexual.

Nicoletti has said the allegations behind the 89 counts he faces are "made up" and his attorney says the case is built upon the testimony of convicted felons.

The trial is expected to last three weeks or more.