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US prison warden found guilty in ‘rape club’ abuse | News of sexual assault


Ray Garcia was the first of five defendants to be tried on charges of abusing women incarcerated in a California prison.

Former warden of a federal women’s prison in the United States, where inmates said they were subjected rampant sexual abuse was convicted of sexually abusing prisoners and forcing them to be naked in their cells.

Ray Garcia was found guilty on eight counts on Thursday and faces up to 15 years in prison. He is among five workers accused of abusing inmates at the federal correctional facility in Dublin, California – said to be a “rape club”. He was the first to go to trial.

Garcia, 55, stepped down from his post last year after the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found nude photos of prisoners in his government-issued phone. Garcia is charged with abusing three inmates between December 2019 and July 2021.

Prosecutors argued at the trial that Garcia’s abuse began with praise, flattery and promises of transfers to lower-security prisons, but escalated to the point sexual assault.

An Associated Press investigation in February revealed a culture of abuse and cover-up that existed for years at the prison, about 34 kilometers (21 mi) east of Oakland. That report led to closer scrutiny from the US Congress and a commitment from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) that it would fix the problems and change the prison’s culture.

The trial raised questions about handle BOP about inmates’ sexual abuse complaints against staff and the vetting process of those they choose to run their prisons.

Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California
Prosecutors allege that the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, was the site of years of sexual abuse of imprisoned women [File: Ben Margot/AP Photo]

All sexual activity between a prison employee and an inmate is illegal. Corrections officers have considerable power over inmates, controlling every aspect of their lives from mealtime to when the lights go out, and under no circumstances can prisoners give consent.

Prosecutors allege that Garcia was in charge of training staff and inmates about reporting abuse and complying with the Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act at the time he committed the abuse. Some inmates say they have been placed in solitary confinement or other prisons for alleged abuse by staff.

Prosecutors said Garcia tried to keep his victims quiet with promises that he would get them released soon. He allegedly told a victim that he and the prison officer responsible for investigating employee misconduct were “close friends” and that he could not be fired. According to an indictment, he said he liked to associate with prisoners because they had no power so they could not “ruin him”.

Garcia was also accused of ordering inmates to strip him naked as he walked around and lied to federal agents who asked him if he ever asked inmates to undress him or inappropriately touched a female prisoner.

“We see inmates wearing clothes and stuff… and if they were undressing, I would have looked,” Garcia told the FBI in July 2021, according to court records. “I don’t like scheduling times like, ‘You take your clothes off, and I’ll be there.’”

Garcia was placed on administrative leave before retiring. He was arrested in September 2021.

Last month, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco directed federal prosecutors across the United States to “review the full spectrum of statutes,” including the federal Violence Against Women Act. regarding a BOP employee accused of sexual misconduct.

In those cases, Monaco said prosecutors should consider asking the judge to issue sentences that exceed federal guidelines if the sentence proposed in the guidelines is not “fair and proportionate.” with the seriousness of the offence”.

Of the other four Dublin workers charged with abusing prisoners, three have pleaded guilty and one is expected to appear in court next year.

James Theodore Highhouse, the prison’s chaplain, is appealing his seven-year prison sentence, arguing it is excessive because it is more than double the penalty recommended in federal sentencing guidelines.

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