by Ed Lyon
Apolonio Gamez, 41, worked for the federal Bureau of Prisons as a guard for six years, beginning in 2012. In May 2017, at FCI Victorville in California, Gamez caught a female prisoner stealing food from the kitchen. Rather than writing her a disciplinary report, he decided to “informally resolve” the infraction by taking her into a walk-in refrigerator, where he orally raped her. She would later tell investigators that she “felt frozen and powerless with fear,” yet retained the presence of mind to preserve some of Gamez’s semen on her clothing.
Previously, in 2016, Gamez had had sexual contact with another prisoner on several occasions, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
In early summer 2017, Gamez exposed himself to a female prisoner in the food service’s warehouse. His intended victim fled the area before a sexual assault could occur. She did not hesitate to tell other prisoners what happened, and also spoke with investigators. A central theme emerged from the prisoners who were interviewed: Gamez was a “‘sexual predator’ who posed a risk to all the inmates working in food service at the prison.”
Succumbing to a deep depressive state, Gamez’s victim who was sexually abused in the walk-in refrigerator became withdrawn and introverted until she finally confided with other prisoners. They, in turn, notified investigators. The contaminated clothing item was turned over and the case against Gamez gained momentum.
On January 28, 2019, after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual abuse of a ward and one count of attempted sexual abuse of a ward, Gamez was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Jesus G. Bernal to 24 months in federal prison plus seven years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a special assessment of $5,000, and must register as a sex offender.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed in 2003, though the standards were not promulgated for another decade. When the PREA standards are enforced, such efforts are typically half-hearted at best and the sexual abuse of prisoners by prison staff remains a widespread problem. [See: PLN, Nov. 2017, p.1].
Sources: desertsun.com, sacbee.com, justice.gov
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