US prison warden charged with sexually abusing 2 more women

WASHINGTON (AP) — The former warden of a California women’s prison, who is already facing federal charges alleging he sexually abused inmates and forced them to pose nude for him, was charged Tuesday with sexually abusing two other female prisoners, the Justice Department said.

Ray Garcia, 55, was the warden at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California. An Associated Press investigation revealed a culture of abuse and cover-ups that had persisted for years at the prison, a women-only facility called the “rape club” by many who know it.

The Justice Department announced a superseding indictment against Garcia on Tuesday charging him with a total of seven counts of sexually abusive conduct involving three female victims who were serving prison sentences at the federal prison in Dublin, California, and one count of making false statements to government agents.

The former warden, arrested last September, is accused of molesting an inmate as she tried to push him away. Garcia made her and another inmate strip naked as he did rounds and took pictures that were found on his personal laptop computer and government-issued cell phone when the FBI raided his office and home last summer, prosecutors said. The abuse happened on multiple occasions from December 2019 to March 2020 and ended when the pandemic exploded and women were locked in their cells, the Justice Department has said.

“If they’re undressing, I’ve already looked,” Garcia, 54, 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, who retired a month after his arrest, is also accused of using his authority to intimidate one of his victims, telling her that he was “close friends” with the person responsible for investigating staff misconduct and boasting that he could not be fired, prosecutors said.

Garcia pleaded not guilty to the initial charges against him, and his lawyer has declined the AP’s repeated requests for an interview. A message seeking comment was left with Garcia’s lawyer on Tuesday.

The new indictment also alleges that Garcia sexually abused two other female inmates between March 2020 and July 2021. The Justice Departments alleges Garcia touched the three women “in a sexual manner” and that he had “asked multiple inmates to undress for him at a specific time.”

The indictment alleges that he sexually abused one of the women in a prison bathroom next to a visitation room and in prison warehouse. Prosecutors say Garcia forced another woman to touch his genitals in the laundry room and grabbed the third woman’s buttocks in the prison’s electrical shop.

The indictment also alleges that Garcia lied to federal agents who asked him if he had ever asked inmates to undress for him or had inappropriately touched a female inmate.

Four other Dublin workers have been charged with sexual abuse of inmates since June 2021. Others include a food service foreman and a prison chaplain. Two of the arrested workers have pleaded guilty. One is scheduled to be sentenced next week.

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On Twitter, follow Michael Balsamo at http://twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1 and Michael Sisak at http://twitter.com/mikesisak and send confidential tips by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips/

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