The third of five officers and employees of the federal women's correctional facility in Dublin to be charged with sex abuse crimes, former prison cook Enrique Chavez, pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of groping an inmate.
Chavez, who lives in Manteca, was charged with two instances of "abusive sexual contact" with one particular inmate, and according to court documents, both instances occurred in October 2020. Chavez is now the third officer or employee at the Federal Correctional Institute in Dublin (FCI-Dublin) to plead guilty to similar crimes.
Prosecutors say that Chavez, on at least two occasions, touched or fondled the inmate "with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire" of himself or the inmate. On one occasion he intentionally touched the victim's breasts and buttocks, and on the other occasion he touched the woman's genitals as well.
As KTVU reports, Chavez's plea today before U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, is the third to come from five men who worked at the prison who have been charged. Chavez faces up to two years in prison for each count.
Former prison chaplain James Highhouse pleaded guilty to sex abuse crimes and has been sentenced to seven years, which he's expected to begin serving next week.
Another former correctional officer at FCI Dublin, Ross Klinger, pleaded guilty to having abusive sexual contact with three inmates at the prison — and they further accuse him of psychological abuse using their personal files as fodder against them. One of those inmates, identified only as M.R. in court documents, has separately filed a sexual assault and battery case against Klinger — and it's the first such federal civil lawsuit alleging sexual assault in at least 25 years. He is still awaiting sentencing in the federal criminal case. M.R. further alleges that Klinger threatened to kill her if she told anyone about their sexual contact, and she says she was retaliated against by other officers at FCI-Dublin when she landed back there for violating her parole, after being released to a halfway house and continuing to be in contact with Klinger.
The prison's former warden, Ray J. Garcia, 55, of Merced, was charged in August of this year with seven counts of sexually abusive conduct towards three women and one count of making false statements to government agents. Garcia has pleaded not guilty, and as KTVU reports, he will be headed to trial next year.
Also pleading not guilty is former correctional officer John Bellhouse, who is also headed to trial.
FCI-Dublin has frequently been portrayed in the media as a "country club" due to its minimum security and a few of its high-profile recent inmates, like Varsity Blues scandal figures Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Checking in to FCI-Dublin last year was NXIVM cult figure Allison Mack — featured in HBO's The Vow — who has about two years left on her sentence.
Top image: Photo via Federal Bureau of Prisons