WASHINGTON — As the Democrat-led committee investigating the Capitol riot holds its hearings in Washington D.C., families of those imprisoned over the January 6 incident beg Americans to remember their loved ones.
Although many of the suspects face serious charges, including assault, their families and advocates say they are being denied due process while being held in Washington-area lockups. They also claim the men are suffering physically and psychologically as they await court hearings nearly a year-and-a-half after the riots.
“There is not one day that goes by that my kids do not say that they miss their father,” Bonnie Nichols, mother to two boys aged five and seven, tearfully told The Daily Wire. “They don’t know when dad is going to come home. We talk about ‘when daddy does come home, we’re going to do this and daddy’s going to play with you and that he’s going to do all of these things’ to give them hope and to help them visualize what it’s going to look like in this.”
Nichols’ husband, 31-year-old Ryan Taylor Nichols, was arrested and charged with obstruction of an official proceeding; assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon; theft of government property; and more.
Nichols’ attorney has argued that he was swept up in the riot, the Long-View News Journal reported, but prosecutors said that Nichols thought the 2020 election results were illegitimate and sought to prevent the certification of the election through any means necessary, as shown by his illegal possession of a crowbar and pepper spray on Capitol grounds, according to the District of Colombia affidavit.
The publication reported that prosecutors argued in November that he “presents a clear, concrete, and continuing danger to the community.” His wife believes he has been denied his “due process rights,” concurrent with statements made in a fall 2021 motion by his attorney regarding bail conditions.
“He’s been denied access to worship,” said Bonnie, who described the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility where he is being held as “the D.C. gulag.”
“He hasn’t seen sunlight in months. He doesn’t have a proper, healthy diet. And due to the conditions of confinement, one of the major side effects and prolonged side effects is vision loss.”
“Worst of all,” she said, “he’s been denied access to see his children due to COVID. I have two young boys ages five and seven, and they share with me every night how they are concerned that their father is not going to come home. And my youngest is five, and he doesn’t even remember what his father looks like anymore.”
Cynthia Hughes, founder of the Patriot Freedom Project, told The Daily Wire that Timothy Hale-Cusanelli has also been held in the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility since February 3, 2021. Hughes is a family friend of Hale-Cusanelli, and refers to herself as his “adoptive aunt.” Timothy Hale-Cusanelli is a 12-year army reserve veteran, she said, who lost his housing and his job and was thrown out of the army last year after he was arrested.
“He has been denied all religious services,” she said. “He’s been denied all grooming services. He’s been denied all access to me seeing him. I have not been able to even so much as have a video visit with him. I get to talk to him once a day. He had a trial two weeks ago. I saw him at trial. He does not look healthy, he does not look well.”
Hale-Cusanelli was a contractor at a New Jersey Naval Weapons Station as well as a U.S. Army Reserves member who was found guilty on all charges relating to his illegal entry into the Capitol, according to NPR. His former coworkers claimed he harbored white supremacist views, with them recalling statements such as “Hitler should have finished the job.”
Hughes said that Hale-Cusanelli developed severe ear infections while incarcerated that became so bad that his ear began bleeding. The inmate begged for help but was denied medical care for a long time, she said, adding that he developed the same infection with the same symptoms in the other ear later on.
“When we went to trial I was not allowed to embrace him, I was not allowed to hug him,” Hughes added. “He was treated like a hardened criminal, like a murderer.”
Authorities arrested Robert Morss, who is in his late twenties, in June 2021 and charged him with “federal offenses that include assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers; obstruction of an official proceeding; civil disorder; and robbery of personal property of the United States,” the DOJ said in a press release.
His mother told The Daily Wire that he has been imprisoned for more than a year. She said he was subjected to “terrible” conditions while incarcerated at the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility before being transferred to Northern Neck Regional Jail in Virginia.
“There were times when his rations there smelled like cleaning fluid, there are pubic hairs in his food sometimes, and the drinking water was dirty, absolutely terrible mold in the cells, roaches lived amongst them, that type of thing,” she said.
She also claimed that he was the victim of an unprovoked, “extensive” assault that had a “sexual component to it.” Morss believes the attack occurred because the guards were “frustrated” with his attorney and were acting out of retaliation against his representation.
“There were five guards,” she said of this alleged assault, saying it “included mace” and “him being naked.”
“It was really horrific,” the prisoner’s mother said.
“It’s extremely painful because you wouldn’t imagine that anything like this could happen in America,” she continued. “And with his training, I know that he is strong. He can withstand a lot. But really, there’s only so much a person can take. And so, you know, my heart is very sad for him and what he is having to endure and what is being ignored by so many.”
The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment concerning the alleged assault on the inmate. According to the June 2021 DOJ press release, Morss led “an assault on police and organized support from other rioters” during the riot on the lower west terrace of the U.S. Capitol.
“In this country, we have something called due process,” Hughes said. “And no matter what the charge of crime is, you’re entitled to your day in court. You’re entitled to a fair and speedy trial. You’re entitled to due process. These people, because they are Trump supporters, are not getting those things. It’s not just the people that are arrested and charged in this. It’s the families.”
Hughes called the January 6 Commission hearings “political theater,” and said Democrats are using them to target Trump supporters.
“If you listen to the committee hearing the very first thing it aired with Liz Cheney, all she did was go on and on and on about Donald Trump. Donald Trump. Donald Trump. That’s what this is about. And it’s really time for the American people to wake up and say, enough.”
The District of Columbia Department of Corrections did not respond to requests for comment for this story.