- Enrique Chavez is the fifth Bureau of Detention staff at the Northern California Advanced Prison in Dublin to be indicted at the facility since spring 2021.
- Members of Congress have called for closer scrutiny and an investigation into allegations of systematic sexual abuse against inmates.
- The prison is one of the nation’s few federal women’s prisons.
A fifth employee at federal women’s prison in California was indicted on charges that stemmed from the sexual abuse of an inmate. The High-class Dublin prison in Northern California, formerly home to famous actors and one of the nation’s few all-female federal prisons, has come under close scrutiny in recent months accused system abuse.
Enrique Chavez, 49, a former cooking supervisor, becomes the fifth Bureau of Prisons employee to be indicted at the facility since spring 2021. Former warden, prison safety manager and technician Recyclers were all indicted on similar charges last year, and its chaplain – whose office was blocked by authorities before the pandemic – was indicted earlier this year.
The charges against Chavez were made public on Wednesday as members of Congress urged greater scrutiny and an investigation into allegations of systematic sexual abuse against prisoners by those in power at jail. The Bureau of Prisons has suffered from staffing and low morale, especially due to the pandemic, and its Trump-era director Michael Carvajal will step down as soon as a successor is in place.
Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin both spent time in Dublin prison for their involvement in the college admissions bribery scandal. Dublin is one of 122 federal prisons in the country and one of only five prisons for women in the federal system.
The grand jury indictment, filed March 10 in the Northern District Court of California, USA, charges Chavez with two counts of sexual abuse circa October 2020. Chavez allegedly touched an inmate’s vagina, “breasts and buttocks with the intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or satisfy any person’s sexual desire,” the allegation stated. clear. Chavez was arrested in Arizona and is awaiting transfer to Oakland to face these charges. According to court documents, the subpoena was issued without bail.
“The government is currently investigating further suspects for related crimes,” prosecutors wrote in their motion to drop the indictment. “Regarding those investigations, the government plans to execute multiple search warrants.”
An attorney for Chavez could not be immediately identified for comment.
“Holding a position of power comes with great responsibility. Chavez made the decision to abuse his authority and fall victim to the prisoners he was responsible for overseeing,” FBI Special Agent Craig D. Fair said in a statement. “Let this send a clear message that the FBI will investigate and hold anyone and every individual responsible for such conduct, regardless of your title or authority.”
The Dublin prison has been overseen by members of Congress, who wrote a letter earlier this month to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz urging him to investigate the prison and retaliate against staff and inmates. for filing a complaint or for assisting in the investigation of the complaint.
Horowitz said in a statement on Wednesday that his office will “continue to actively pursue allegations of abuse at FCI Dublin and across the BOP.”
In a criminal complaint filed against then-Detainer Ray J. Garcia, 54, on September 23, accusing him of sexually abusing an inmate, an FBI agent said in a statement. testified that Garcia led the Prison Rape Elimination Act training course. staff in 2019 and 2020 and instruct inmates on how to report charges.
The lawsuit alleges Garcia repeatedly penetrated his victim’s vagina with his fingers, asked inmates to strip him naked while he performed rounds, and took pictures and saved them on personal laptops. his person. Investigators also found a “massive volume of sexually graphic photographs” of both male and female genitalia and nude photos of Garcia on his work cell phone issued by the Bureau of Detention. release.
In an effort to prevent an inmate from reporting abuse, Garcia allegedly told the inmate he was close friends with the head of the “Special Investigation Service,” which investigates allegations of misconduct. left of prisoners and prison guards.
According to the agent’s affidavit: “Garcia told her he liked convicts because they didn’t see the police, that he couldn’t be fired, and that she couldn’t ‘ruin him. ‘
An attorney for Garcia declined to comment. Garcia has since retired.
The chaplain, James Theodore Highhouse, 49, pleaded guilty as part of a February plea agreement in federal court to five felony counts of sexually abusing a female inmate who came to him for guidance. spirit, and then lied to federal agents in the ensuing investigation. He faces up to 39 years in prison.
Highhouse attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
When approached by USA TODAY last fall, Highhouse said inmates came to see him for “different reasons” but would not provide details. He denies all allegations of wrongdoing and says he doesn’t “remember anyone saying anything about” allegations that Garcia or Ross Klinger, the recycling technician, sexually abused inmates. core. Klinger, 37, pleaded guilty to three counts in February.
According to the complaint against Klinger, who was accused of sexual abuse by a prison camp, he had sex with two inmates and told them both that he wanted to father their child and planned to end their relationship. kiss them. The lawsuit alleges Klinger repeatedly had sex with the first victim in a warehouse and continued to keep in touch with her after he was transferred to another prison, using the alias “Juan Garcia” and also Contact her via email and video. .
Klinger is also accused of having sex with another inmate in a cargo box while another inmate acted in custody. After the prisoner was released to a halfway house, Klinger kept in touch with her via text message and Snapchat. He visited her at a halfway house where they had sex and he proposed to her with a diamond ring.
The safety officer, John Russell Bellhouse, 39, pleaded not guilty in 2000 to having sex with an inmate he called “girlfriend”. He allegedly provided the inmate with earrings, let her use his office phone and performed oral sex on her twice, one of those times in the security office. whole. Another inmate acted as a “watcher” for at least one of the encounters, according to the lawsuit.
His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to a request for comment.