Former warden at women’s prison known as ‘rape club’ gets 70 months for sexual abuse
The former warden of a federal women’s prison in California so plagued by sexual abuse it was known as the “rape club” was sentenced Wednesday to nearly six years in prison for sexually abusing incarcerated women and forcing them to pose naked and for lying to the FBI as part of a cover-up.
In announcing the 70-month sentence of Ray J. Garcia, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers castigated the former warden of Federal Correctional Institution Dublin for what she called “ludicrous” lying on the witness stand and for perpetuating the prison’s culture of sexual abuse.
“You entered a cesspool and did nothing about it. You just went along for the ride and enjoyed the cesspool yourself,” Rogers said. “You should have done something about it.”
Garcia’s sentencing came three months after a federal jury in Oakland found him guilty of three counts of sex with an incarcerated person, four counts of abusive sexual contact and one count of lying to the FBI. Prosecutors had asked for a 15-year sentence. Garcia’s sister asked that he be placed on electronic monitoring.
Garcia, 55, told the judge he was “ashamed” as a “broken man” who did not take responsibility for being “highly sexualized.”
“I didn’t show strength, discipline or character,” he said, according to KTVU-TV. “I’m sorry — beyond sorry — to the women I’ve hurt.”
After waiving his right to appeal, Garcia must surrender on May 19.
A warden at the all-female federal prison where Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman recently served time is accused of sexually assaulting an inmate.
Garcia retired as warden in disgrace after an FBI search uncovered naked photos of female inmates on his government-issued phone. He was subsequently charged with fondling and groping three women incarcerated at the prison in Dublin amid allegations he’d had them pose naked for photos.
Before sentencing, one of his victims described how Garcia made her life a living hell. “You are a predator and a pervert. You are a disgrace to the federal government,” she said.
Another told the judge he treated her like a “sexual play toy.” “I can assure you my sentence did not come with a clause to be sexually abused by prison staffers,” she said.
Inmates at the federal correctional institution in Dublin, Calif., say they have been subjected to rampant sexual abuse by correctional officers and even the warden, an Associated Press investigation reports.
Garcia is among five prison employees charged with abusing inmates at the East Bay facility in what has become one of the worst documented cases of widespread sexual abuse by staff in a women’s federal prison.
Jurors heard evidence of how Garcia repeatedly sexually assaulted one woman in a prison bathroom and a warehouse, showed her photos of his penis and forced her to pose in a pornographic manner in a prison cell.
He also touched another inmate’s breasts inside her cell and had her touch his penis in the laundry room, prosecutors said.
Court documents said he grabbed a third victim’s buttocks, kissed her repeatedly and took photos of her during video sex chats from a San Diego halfway house controlled by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
An incarcerated person cannot legally consent to sexual activity with a prison worker.
Amid the abuse, Garcia was promoted from associate warden to warden, according to federal prosecutors. The Bureau of Prisons defended his promotion, saying it was unaware of his behavior at the time.
An Associated Press investigation has found that more than 100 federal Bureau of Prisons employees have been arrested, convicted or sentenced in criminal cases since 2019.
Garcia was also accused of ordering female inmates to strip naked for him as he made his rounds, though when confronted by the FBI, he denied such allegations.
During Garcia’s trial, James Reilly, his lawyer, argued that there was no surveillance video capturing any alleged sex acts, and pointed out that the accusers are convicted felons. He said Garcia took the photographs the FBI found because he wanted to document that the women were breaching prison policy by standing around naked.
Federal prison employees say that they’re being bullied and threatened for raising concerns about serious misconduct and that it’s indicative of widespread problems in the Bureau of Prisons.
Garcia committed the abuse while in charge of staff and inmate training on reporting allegations of sexual misconduct, as required under the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, according to prosecutors.
Several other workers from the Dublin prison have been charged with abusing inmates. Three have pleaded guilty, while another — James Theodore Highhouse, the former prison chaplain — is appealing his seven-year sentence as excessive because it was more than double the recommended punishment in federal sentencing guidelines.
The prison, located about 21 miles east of Oakland, opened in 1974. It was converted in 2012 to one of six women-only facilities in the federal prison system. Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman both served time there for their involvement in the college admissions bribery scandal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The stories shaping California
Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.