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Maryland prison officials are investigating an alleged assault against a correctional officer Friday at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup.

Officials said that a veteran female correctional officer reported that she was escorting a male inmate assigned to kitchen duty when the inmate shoved her into a closet and attempted to sexually assault her.

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The correctional officer was taken to a local hospital for treatment. She has identified her alleged attacker, according to state officials.

An investigation into Maryland’s only prison for women following the 2017 suicide of an inmate found the facility violated the constitutional rights of individuals with disabilities who are placed in segregation and did not take sufficient steps to “prevent future harm.”

Patrick Moran, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Maryland Council 3 union — which represents correctional officials — said the inmate “took advantage of an opportunity.”

Moran said the correctional officer “was assigned to oversee two tiers. Each tier has 65 inmates. This was not adequate staffing.”

After the alleged assault, Moran said, other officers made contact with the victim and “found her beat up in the closet,” he said.

Another detainee died at the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center facility Thursday night, just minutes after he called relatives. The death caused the facility to be shut down while authorities investigate, according to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Moran claims the state has allowed staffing vacancies to grow, creating an unsafe work environment. “This is what happens when you do not meet your resource obligations,” he said.

Gerry Shields, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, responded in a statement, saying: “Any assertion by the union to blame this tragic incident on staffing shortages is not only false but grossly irresponsible. The institution was fully staffed at the time of the incident.

“Mr. Moran is exploiting the victim of this crime to push union agenda for a new contract knowing full well that the information we can release is limited due to the ongoing criminal and administrative Investigations,” Shields said.

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