Ex-prison warden convicted of sexually abusing inmates

Dec 7, 2022, 10:28 PM | Updated: Dec 8, 2022, 12:56 pm
Ray J. Garcia leaves the Federal Courthouse in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. Garcia, the ...

Ray J. Garcia leaves the Federal Courthouse in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. Garcia, the former warden of an abuse-plagued federal women's prison known as the "rape club," went on trial Monday, accused of molesting inmates and forcing them to pose naked in their cells. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The former warden of a federal women’s prison in California where inmates said they were subjected to rampant sexual abuse was convicted on Thursday of molesting inmates and forcing them to pose naked in their cells.

Ray Garcia was found guilty of all eight charges and faces up to 15 years in prison. He was among five workers charged with abusing inmates at the federal correctional institution in Dublin, California, and the first to go to trial.

Garcia, 55, retired from his post last year after the FBI found nude photos of inmates on his government-issued phone. Garcia was charged with abusing three inmates between December 2019 and July 2021.

Jurors deliberated over parts of three days following a week of testimony, including from several of Garcia’s accusers and the former warden himself.

“Instead of ensuring the proper functioning of FCI Dublin, he used his authority to sexually prey upon multiple female inmates under his control,” U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds said, calling Garcia’s crimes a betrayal of the public trust and his obligations as a warden.

Prosecutors argued at trial that Garcia’s abusive conduct followed a pattern that started with compliments, flattery and promises of transfers to lower security prisons, and escalated to sexual assault.

Testifying on his own behalf, Garcia conceded that he had made mistakes but claimed that some of his alleged wrongdoing — like taking pictures of naked inmates — was done as part of his official duties to document violations of prison policy. Prosecutors countered by calling a prison lieutenant who said he’s never seen a case where it was appropriate for an employee to take photos of a nude inmate.

An Associated Press investigation in February revealed a culture of abuse and cover-up that had persisted for years at the prison, about 21 miles (34 kilometers) east of Oakland. That reporting led to increased scrutiny from Congress and pledges from the federal Bureau of Prisons that it would fix problems and change the culture at the prison.

The trial has called into question the Bureau of Prisons’ handling of sexual abuse complaints from inmates against staff and the vetting process for the people it chooses to run its prisons.

All sexual activity between a prison worker and an inmate is illegal. Correctional employees enjoy substantial power over inmates, controlling every aspect of their lives from mealtime to lights out, and there is no scenario in which an inmate can give consent.

Garcia was in charge of staff and inmate training on reporting abuse and complying with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act at the same time he was committing abuse, prosecutors say, and some inmates say they were sent to solitary confinement or other prisons for accusing employees of abuse.

Prosecutors say Garcia tried to keep his victims quiet with promises that he’d help them get early release. He allegedly told one victim he was “close friends” with the prison official responsible for investigating staff misconduct and couldn’t be fired. According to an indictment, he said he liked to cavort with inmates because, given their lack of power, they couldn’t “ruin him.”

Garcia was also accused of ordering inmates to strip naked for him as he made his rounds and of lying to federal agents who asked him if he had ever asked inmates to undress for him or had inappropriately touched a female inmate.

“We see inmates dressing and stuff … and if they’re undressing, I’ve already looked,” Garcia told the FBI in July 2021, according to court records. “I don’t, like, schedule a time like, ‘You be undressed, 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 U.S. to “consider the full array of statutes,” including the federal Violence Against Women Act in cases involving Bureau of Prisons employees who are accused of sexual misconduct.

In those cases, Monaco said prosecutors should consider asking judges for sentences that go beyond the federal guidelines if the sentence recommended in the guidelines isn’t “fair and proportional to the seriousness of the offenses.”

Of the four other Dublin workers charged with abusing inmates, three have pleaded guilty and one is scheduled to stand trial next year. James Theodore Highhouse, the prison’s chaplain, is appealing his seven-year prison sentence, arguing that it was excessive because it was more than double the recommended punishment in federal sentencing guidelines.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Activists momentarily surround an MPD cruiser during a march for Tyre Nichols, who died after being...
Associated Press

Memphis police disband unit that beat Tyre Nichols

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis police chief on Saturday disbanded the city’s so-called Scorpion unit, citing a “cloud of dishonor” from newly released video that showed some of its officers beating Tyre Nichols to death after stopping the Black motorist. Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis acted a day after the harrowing video emerged, saying […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Saturday’s Scores

GIRLS PREP BASKETBALL= Bothell 44, Glacier Peak 40 Burlington-Edison 47, Squalicum 33 Columbia River 53, R.A. Long 28 Entiat 60, Cascade (Leavenworth) 9 Evergreen Lutheran 48, Three Rivers Christian School 26 Hermiston, Ore. 66, Pasco 36 Kamiakin 61, Kennewick 35 Kennedy 49, Bainbridge 42 La Conner 81, Skyview 77 Lakeside (Seattle) 71, Seattle Prep 37 […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Saturday’s Scores

BOYS PREP BASKETBALL= Bothell 64, Glacier Peak 49 Cedarcrest 60, Marysville-Pilchuck 57 Inchelium 71, Springdale 70 Kellogg, Idaho 50, Newport 27 Lynden 69, Lakewood 50 Naselle 63, Winlock 59 Sound Christian 69, Pope John Paul II 34 ___ Some high school basketball scores provided by Scorestream.com, https://scorestream.com/ Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Arizona Republicans pick former Trump official to lead party

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Republicans on Saturday selected former state treasurer and Donald Trump aide Jeff DeWit to be the party’s next chairman, turning to a familiar face with relationships across the fractured party after its worst election in decades. DeWit replaces firebrand Trump ally Kelli Ward, who helped the former president in his efforts […]
18 hours ago
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday...
Associated Press

Trump says beating of Nichols ‘never should have happened’

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump on Saturday said the footage of the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols by five Memphis police officers is “horrible” and that the attack “never should have happened.” “I thought it was terrible. He was in such trouble. He was just being pummeled. Now that should never have […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Bus falls into ravine in northern Peru, leaving 25 dead

LIMA, Peru (AP) — A passenger bus fell into a ravine in northern Peru on Saturday leaving at least 25 people dead and others injured, authorities said. The bus belonging Q’orianka Tours had left the capital of Lima for the Tumbes region near the Ecuador border on Peru’s coastal desert. The early morning accident left […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Ex-prison warden convicted of sexually abusing inmates