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Ex-prison warden convicted of sexually abusing inmates

The previous warden of a federal ladies’s jail in California the place inmates stated they have been subjected to rampant sexual abuse was convicted on Thursday of molesting inmates and forcing them to pose bare of their cells.

Ray Garcia was discovered responsible of all eight prices and faces as much as 15 years in jail. He was amongst 5 employees charged with abusing inmates on the federal correctional establishment in Dublin, California, and the primary to go to trial.

Garcia, 55, retired from his put up final 12 months after the FBI discovered nude pictures of inmates on his government-issued cellphone. Garcia was charged with abusing three inmates between December 2019 and July 2021.

Jurors deliberated over components of three days following every week of testimony, together with from a number of of Garcia’s accusers and the previous warden himself.

“As an alternative of making certain the right functioning of FCI Dublin, he used his authority to sexually prey upon a number of feminine inmates beneath his management,” U.S. Lawyer Stephanie Hinds stated, calling Garcia’s crimes a betrayal of the general public belief and his obligations as a warden.

Prosecutors argued at trial that Garcia’s abusive conduct adopted a sample that began with compliments, flattery and guarantees of transfers to decrease safety prisons, and escalated to sexual assault.

Testifying on his personal behalf, Garcia conceded that he had made errors however claimed that a few of his alleged wrongdoing — like taking footage of bare inmates — was carried out as a part of his official duties to doc violations of jail coverage. Prosecutors countered by calling a jail lieutenant who stated he is by no means seen a case the place it was acceptable for an worker to take pictures of a nude inmate.

An Related Press investigation in February revealed a culture of abuse and cover-up that had endured for years on the jail, about 21 miles (34 kilometers) east of Oakland. That reporting led to elevated scrutiny from Congress and pledges from the federal Bureau of Prisons that it could repair issues and alter the tradition on the jail.

The trial has called into question the Bureau of Prisons’ dealing with of sexual abuse complaints from inmates in opposition to workers and the vetting course of for the folks it chooses to run its prisons.

All sexual exercise between a jail employee and an inmate is unlawful. Correctional staff get pleasure from substantial energy over inmates, controlling each facet of their lives from mealtime to lights out, and there’s no situation wherein an inmate may give consent.

Garcia was answerable for workers and inmate coaching on reporting abuse and complying with the federal Jail Rape Elimination Act on the similar time he was committing abuse, prosecutors say, and a few inmates say they have been despatched to solitary confinement or different prisons for accusing staff of abuse.

Prosecutors say Garcia tried to maintain his victims quiet with guarantees that he’d assist them get early launch. He allegedly informed one sufferer he was “shut buddies” with the jail official answerable for investigating workers misconduct and couldn’t be fired. In response to an indictment, he stated he appreciated to cavort with inmates as a result of, given their lack of energy, they couldn’t “wreck him.”

Garcia was additionally accused of ordering inmates to strip bare for him as he made his rounds and of mendacity to federal brokers who requested him if he had ever requested inmates to undress for him or had inappropriately touched a feminine inmate.

“We see inmates dressing and stuff … and in the event that they’re undressing, I’ve already seemed,” Garcia informed the FBI in July 2021, based on court docket information. “I don’t, like, schedule a time like, ‘You be undressed, and I’ll be there.’”

Garcia was positioned on administrative depart earlier than retiring. He was arrested in September 2021.

Final month, Deputy Lawyer Normal Lisa Monaco directed federal prosecutors throughout the U.S. to “contemplate the complete array of statutes,” together with the federal Violence Towards Girls Act in instances involving Bureau of Prisons staff who’re accused of sexual misconduct.

In these instances, Monaco stated prosecutors ought to contemplate asking judges for sentences that transcend the federal tips if the sentence really helpful within the tips isn’t “honest and proportional to the seriousness of the offenses.”

Of the 4 different Dublin employees charged with abusing inmates, three have pleaded responsible and one is scheduled to face trial subsequent 12 months. James Theodore Highhouse, the jail’s chaplain, is interesting his seven-year prison sentence, arguing that it was extreme as a result of it was greater than double the really helpful punishment in federal sentencing tips.

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