This article has been updated to include comments from Jamie Dening, the defense attorney for Abraham Phelan.

TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. — An inmate at the Tompkins County Jail assaulted a Corrections Officer, injuring them to the point that they needed to be sent to Cayuga Medical Center for treatment. 

Abraham Phelan is described as making an “unprovoked attack” against an unnamed corrections officer by the Sheriff’s Office on July 1. Phelan, 24 and a 2017 Ithaca High School graduate, was being held at the jail on a charge of Forcible Touching which he was arrested on in Jan. 2022

Phelan had been released from detention on that charge, but was taken back into custody after being accused of violating the terms of his release, according to his attorney, Jamie Dening.

The Sheriff’s Office stated that on July 1 Phelan “intentionally flooded” his cell, and while the unnamed corrections officer was handing him cleaning supplies in the cellblock, Phelan attacked the officer.

Corrections Captain Raymond Bunce said that Phelan attacked the officer using his bare hands, and that the motivation for the attack remains unclear. 

“There was no indication that he was going to attack any officers,”  said Bunce. “Absolutely not.”

Bunce added that the officer did “everything he could” to avoid engaging with the assault.

Dening said it is too premature to comment further on the situation. A preliminary hearing will be held next week in Lansing Town Court.

The Ithaca Voice has filed a FOIL request for any footage that exists of the incident. 

Bunce declined to detail the extent of the officer’s injuries, but said that they have not yet returned to work and that a return date has not been determined. 

As a result of the assault, Phelan has been charged with Assault in the Second Degree, a class C felony. He is being held at the Tompkins County Jail on a $30,000 cash bail.

On the previous forcible touching charges, Phelan was sentenced to six years probation by Ithaca Judge Seth Peacock Friday morning, one week after the attack.

Jimmy Jordan

Jimmy Jordan is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact him at Connect with him on Twitter @jmmy_jrdn