Dozens of female inmates who have spent time at Dublin Federal Correction Institution (FCI) in Dublin, California, have broken their silence recently and alleged rampant sexual assault in the prison. At this time, four correctional officers and a former warden have been formally charged with sexually assaulting inmates there. Two of the officers so far have pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of inmates at Dublin FCI. It is likely that more staff members will be implicated as investigations continue.
Numerous Reports of Sexual Abuse at Dublin FCI
The true extent of the sexual assaults occurring at Dublin FCI is not entirely known, but many different acts of sexual assault and abuse have been reported in detail by several inmates at the all-female correctional facility. Many were allegedly assaulted regularly in their cells, while others allege attacks and harassment in common areas of the facility like the kitchen. There are also reports of nonsexual violence against the women there, such as unprompted physical assaults that once rendered an inmate unconscious.
One former prison unit manager has also reported that she was abused as an employee at Dublin FCI in her 25 years working there. As inmate stories began to break the silence, she came forward to share that she was frequently verbally abused.
It has also been claimed that the correctional officers at Dublin FCI created a crassly coined “rape club” that was devoted to sexually assaulting the inmates there. Prison administrators might have known or arguably should have known that such a malicious group had formed, yet nothing was done to disband it and penalize its members.
On August 23, 2023, it was reported that eight inmates at a San Francisco Bay Area prison, known as the "rape club" by both prisoners and staff, filed a lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Prisons. This lawsuit, filed in Oakland, California, also involves the current warden and 12 former and current guards. The inmates, represented by attorneys and the advocacy group California Coalition for Women Prisoners, claim that despite the prosecution of the former warden and several former officers, sexual abuse and exploitation have not ceased at the facility, dating back to the 1990s.
On May 13, 2023, former correctional officer Darrell Wayne Smith — named in court documents by his full name, as well as his nickname, “Dirty Dick Smith” — was arrested on a 12-count indictment. He is accused of sexually abusing three women who were serving their sentences at the California facility between 2019 and 2021.
In February 2023, former FCI Dublin employee Enrique Chavez was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison for sexually abusing an inmate. Chavez, who worked as a food service foreman at the prison, had pleaded guilty to one count of abusive sexual contact after he locked a female inmate in the pantry and fondled her in 2020.
On December 8, 2022, a federal jury in Oakland found the former Warden of FCI Dublin, Ray J. Garcia, guilty on three counts of sex with an incarcerated person, four counts of abusive sexual contact, and one count of lying to the FBI in connection to abuse that took place between December 2019 and July 2021.
Garcia and Chavez were two of five FCI Dublin employees to be charged with inmate sex abuse since 2021, in what investigators have called one of the worst documented cases of staff-on-inmate abuse in a women’s federal prison. Three of the other FCI Dublin workers charged with abuse pleaded guilty, including former prison chaplain James Theodore Highhouse, who was sentenced to 7 years in prison in August 2022. On March 8, 2023, prosecutors recommended that Garcia be sentenced to 15 years in prison for his sex crimes.
In June 2023, a federal jury convicted Federal Correctional Officer John Bellhouse on charges of sexually abusing two female inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California (FCI Dublin). Bellhouse, 40, was found guilty of two counts of sexual abuse and three counts of abusive sexual contact. The offenses were committed between December 2019 and December 2020. Bellhouse faces a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years for each sexual abuse charge and up to two years for each count of abusive sexual contact.
Threats of Retaliation Are Not Stopping Survivors from Coming Forward
Among all the allegations and verified reports of sexual assault at Dublin FCI, there is one constant: the threat of retaliation. Nearly every woman who was sexually abused at the correctional facility was threatened with additional harm if they spoke up or sought help. Some were even denied medical treatment to ensure that they would stay quiet about the attacks.
These threats have not stopped the brave survivors of this outrageous sexual abuse from coming forward and seeking the financial compensation they deserve. Even if the sexual abuse occurred years or decades ago, you should still contact experienced legal counsel to understand your legal rights.
It is also important to understand that consensual sexual acts cannot exist between an inmate and someone in a supervisory or disciplinary position with them, such as a corrections officer, due to restrictions in the law. Therefore, no alleged sexual acts in Dublin FCI are permitted under the law and would instead be considered sexual assault. Even women who did not experience forcible sexual violence, or who may be considered to have consented in a non-prison setting, are entitled to relief under the law. Simply put, any sexual act between a corrections officer and inmate is sexual assault. All survivors of sexual assault at Dublin FCI should explore their legal rights under laws empowering survivors of sexual abuse.
How to File a Dublin FCI Lawsuit
The time to file a lawsuit against Dublin FCI for enabling sexual assault within its walls is extremely limited. If you were sexually assaulted at this federal correctional facility, then you should act now.
Call (800) 315-3806 and connect with Levy Konigsberg and our team of nationally-recognized sex abuse attorneys. We fight for the rights of the abused, no matter who hurt them. We have the resources, experience, and network to take claims against prisons, churches, corporations, and other major institutions.
Don’t lose your opportunity to file a Dublin FCI sexual assault lawsuit. Contact Levy Konigsberg now.
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- “Dozens of women detail rape and retaliation at Dublin prison, real reform is questioned” (FOX 2 KTVU)