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Fifth BOP Employee Sentenced in California “Rape Club,” Another Lawsuit Filed

Former Bureau of Prisons (BOP) guard Andrew Jones, 36, is now part of the notorious “rape club” at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, receiving the longest sentence so far in the ongoing scandal when U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers sent him to prison for eight years, followed by 10 years of supervised release, on November 15, 2023.

On July 13, 2023, Jones and fellow guard Nakie Nunley, 48, were charged with sexually abusing prisoners at the lockup and then lying about it to federal investigators. Both pleaded guilty on August 17, 2023; Nunley is awaiting sentencing. The retired Air Force veteran supervised prisoners working in UNICOR, the federal prison industries. All his victims worked at the UNICOR call center when he coerced them into sexual acts between March 2020 and November 2021. He also lied to federal investigators about the abuse and his communications with the victims. Nunley pleaded guilty to 10 counts of sex abuse with five women, though he admitted to more misconduct than he was charged with.

Jones supervised prisoners who worked in the prison’s Food Services Department. Between July 2020 and June 2021, he had oral sex or sexual intercourse with three prisoners who worked for him in the FCI-Dublin kitchen. Jones, like Nunley, admitted more misconduct than he was charged with, including sexual intercourse and oral sex with a fourth and fifth victim on multiple occasions between July and December 2020 and March and June 2021, respectively.

With Nunley and Jones, the number of staffers charged with sexual abuse at FCI Dublin rose to eight. Seven members of the “Rape Club,” including the warden and the chaplain, have already been convicted, and five have been sentenced.

Former Warden Ray J. Garcia, 55, was convicted in late 2022 and sentenced on March 22, 2023. Before his arrest, Garcia had a 32-year career with BOP, ultimately promoted to run FCI-Dublin in November 2020. On February 9, 2023, former guard and kitchen supervisor Enrique Chavez, 49, got a 20-month term. Former chaplain James Theodore Highhouse, 49, began a seven-year federal prison term on November 2, 2022.

The fifth sentence in the scandal was handed down on December 1, 2023, when former guard John Russell Bellhouse, 40, got a 63-month prison term. Convicted by a jury in June 2023 of two counts of sexual abuse and three counts of abusive sexual contact between 2019 and 2020, he was originally scheduled for sentencing in October 2023, but that was moved back.

Still awaiting sentencing along with Nunley is former guard and technician Ross Klinger, 38. He pleaded guilty on February 10, 2022, to coercing three prisoners to have sex with him in 2020 with gifts, money and offers to marry them and father their children. He stalked one after he was transferred to another prison, using an email alias—“Juan Garcia”—to manipulate her with details gleaned from accessing her prison records without authorization, as PLN reported. [See: PLN, May 2022, p.28.] Klinger cooperated in prosecuting the other staffers charged.

FCI-Dublin now has the dubious distinction of having more guards charged with sex crimes than any other prison in the country. While former Warden Garcia was the highest-ranking employee in the ever-growing scandal, guard Darrell Wayne Smith had the most counts filed against him. A disabled Army veteran, he was arrested in Florida on May 11, 2023, when an indictment was unsealed containing 12 counts of sexual abuse of a ward, aggravated sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact. Smith, whom his victims nicknamed “Dirty Dick,” is accused of groping his victims and having sex with two of them—once in a janitor’s closet.

To one of his alleged victims, Smith was “the worst” of the abusers at the prison, “a pervert in its worst form.” She was among some 50 prisoners and former prisoners who came forward to tell media reporters that Smith “targeted and terrorized them.” They said he was fond of sitting in the dark and eating bananas while watching them undress.

Three civil lawsuits filed by victims at FCI Dublin were stayed in March 2023, pending the latest sentencings. See: M.R. v. Fed. Corr. Inst. Dublin, USDC (N.D. Cal.), Case No. 4:22-cv-05137; M.S. v. Fed. Corr. Inst. Dublin, USDC (N.D. Cal.), Case No. 4:22-cv-08924; and Preciado v. Bellhouse, USDC (N.D. Cal.), Case No. 4:22-cv-09096. They have now been reopened. Meanwhile the latest lawsuit stemming from sexual abuse at the lockup was filed against the BOP on behalf of eight prisoners on August 13, 2023.

That suit accuses BOP of failing to prevent sexual abuse despite reports that date back to the 1990s. It also alleges that sexual abuse has not stopped at the prison, even after the recent prosecutions. Attorneys with Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP in San Francisco, as well as Rights Behind Bars, a non-profit advocacy in Washington, D.C., are representing Plaintiffs. They are asking that the case be certified a class action and that victims be granted compassionate release, along with a “U” visa provided to those living in the U.S illegally. See: Calif. Coalit’n for Women Prisoners v. U.S. Bur. of Prisons, USDC (N.D. Cal.), Case No. 4:23-cv-04155.  

Additional sources: AP News, CBS News, Corrections1, The Guardian, KRON, KTVU

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Related legal cases

Calif. Coalit’n for Women Prisoners v. U.S. Bur. of Prisons

M.R. v. Fed. Corr. Inst. Dublin

M.S. v. Fed. Corr. Inst. Dublin

Preciado v. Bellhouse