Former guard charged with sexually assaulting 13 inmates at California women’s prison

A former corrections officer at California’s largest women’s prison has been arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing at least 13 inmates over the past nine years, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The Madera County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release that Gregory Rodriguez, who worked at a women’s facility in Central California, faces 96 counts including rape, lewdness, sexual battery and rape under color of authority. Three are included.

It could not be determined Wednesday if Rodriguez, 54, has an attorney who can speak on his behalf. He was being held on $7.8 million bail, the DA’s office said.

Prosecutors said the alleged assaults date back to 2014, but most occurred in the past two years.

A photo provided by the Madera County Sheriff’s Office shows Gregory Rodriguez, a former correctional officer at California’s largest women’s prison, who is accused of raping and sexually assaulting an inmate at Central on May 24, 2023. He was later booked into the Madeira County Jail. California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, California.

Madeira County Sheriff’s Office via AP

According to the DA’s office, the charges involve 13 separate victims. If convicted on all charges, Rodriguez could face up to 300 years in prison.

The women’s prison where Rodriquez worked for 12 years is located in Chowchilla, a small town about 120 miles southeast of San Francisco.

Rodriguez retired in August after being contacted about the assaults as part of an internal investigation, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in December.

The investigation, which found that Rodriguez sexually assaulted at least 22 inmates, was turned over to the district attorney’s office earlier this year.

The DA’s office said Wednesday, “These allegations in no way reflect the vast majority of corrections officers who work professionally and do their best to ensure that inmates do their time while being safe. spend”. “It is our hope that the dismissal and arrest of this defendant will encourage him to continue in his honorable profession, abiding by the law every day.”

Two unnamed inmates sued Rodriguez in December, alleging sexual abuse at the prison, which houses about 2,100 inmates.

A 2003 federal law known as the Prison Rape Elimination Act created a “zero tolerance” policy for sexual assaults by inmates.

But California prison officials have still been accused of sexual misconduct in recent years. That includes Israel Trevino, a former corrections officer at a women’s facility in Central California who was fired in 2018 after being accused of sexually harassing inmates and making sexually harassing comments.

An Associated Press investigation has found that a top federal Bureau of Prisons official who previously worked at a women’s prison in the San Francisco Bay Area was repeatedly promoted after allegations that he assaulted inmates. What did

Another investigation found a pattern of sexual abuse by correctional officers at a women’s facility.

These types of allegations extend far beyond California. Former prison officers in Kentucky and New Jersey have recently been charged with sexually assaulting or assaulting inmates.

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