A 5th employee at a federal women’s prison in California has been accused of sexually abusing an inmate, and authorities expect additional charges at the facility. First we saw the Chaplin plead guilty, then it was a officer, all while the warden awaits.
A federal indictment issued Wednesday in federal court charges Enrique Chavez with groping an inmate’s breasts, buttocks, and genitals in October 2020 while working as a food service foreman at the federal correctional prison in Dublin, California, according to a press release.
Timeline and prosecutors statement
Chavez was indicted on March 10, while a task team from the Bureau of Prisons was in Dublin talking with inmates and prison personnel about how to eliminate a culture of abuse at the facility at the time. He had been placed on administrative leave for several months before he was detained on Sunday in Arizona.
“The government is currently investigating additional suspects for related crimes,” prosecutors said in court papers. Investigators planned to execute a number of search warrants on Wednesday, according to the statement.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement that misbehavior by bureau employees “at any level” would not be tolerated and that the bureau’s efforts to root out corruption were “far from complete.”
Prison food workers charges
On two charges of abusive sexual contact, Chavez faces up to two years in prison, with the maximum sentence being two years in prison. It was not immediately clear whether he had been arraigned or whether he had retained an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Chavez is the fifth prison employee to be charged with sexual assault of inmates since the institution opened its doors in June of last year. Others in the group include the former warden of the institution and a priest. So yet, only two of the people who have been arrested have entered pleas of guilty.
It was after a task team of 18 senior executives was organized by the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons to visit Dublin and investigate circumstances while also meeting with detainees and staff members that Chavez was indicted, according to the Justice Department.
“Correctional officers have a trusted responsibility to protect those under their authority,” according to Stephanie Hinds, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, and that “sexually abusing inmates is a betrayal of that responsibility and undermines a just penal system.”