A prison guard has been indicted for allegedly sexually abusing an inmate at an all-female federal prison in Dublin, federal prosecutors said last week.
Enrique Chavez is charged with two counts of abusive sexual contact against an inmate at Federal Correctional Institute Dublin, allegedly occurring on separate occasions in October 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
In each count, the indictment alleges Chavez, 49, engaged in intentional sexual contact with "Victim 1," identified as a female inmate detained at FCI Dublin.
Chavez, a Manteca resident, was arrested March 20 and made his initial appearance in court in Arizona two days later pending a transfer to the Bay Area.
"Above all else, the Bureau of Prisons is charged with providing safe and humane treatment of all who are in their custody," Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement. "As this case makes clear, the Department of Justice is committed to holding BOP personnel accountable, including through criminal charges, when they fail to uphold their responsibility. Staff misconduct, at any level, will not be tolerated, and our efforts to root it out are far from over."
According to the indictment unsealed last week, on the dates of the alleged crimes, Chavez was assigned to the position of cook supervisor/foreman and was supervising female inmates.
Each of the two counts carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.
Chavez's arrest comes only weeks after eight members of Congress including Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Livermore), whose district includes Dublin, demanded an investigation into allegations of abuse and misconduct at the prison.
The members of Congress sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice's Inspector General Michael Horowitz and a separate letter to Michael Carvajal, the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, detailing what they want the investigation to include and what they want related to the audit.
"We were first made aware of the systemic issues plaguing FCI Dublin through the detailed articles and investigations completed by several reputable news sources earlier this month," the group said in a statement.
"These writings detailed how the all-women inmate population at FCI Dublin has allegedly been subjected to rampant sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of predatory male employees like former Warden Ray Garcia, former Chaplain James Theodore Highhouse, Prison Safety Administrator John Bellhouse, and recycling technician Ross Klinger," the leaders added.
Garcia, who was 54 years old and a resident of Merced, was charged with sexual abuse of an incarcerated woman at FCI Dublin when he was the associate warden. The complaint against Garcia was filed Sept. 24 of last year.
Highhouse, a former chaplain with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, pleaded guilty Feb. 23 in federal court in Northern California to five felonies for abusing an FCI Dublin inmate sexually and then lying to federal agents.
Bureau of Prisons Correctional Officer Klinger was arrested June 30 of last year on suspicion of abusing an FCI Dublin inmate sexually.