Warden is ousted as FBI raids California women’s prison known as the ‘rape club’

The exterior of a prison is shown behind fencing with barbed wire.
The Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, Calif.
(Ben Margot / Associated Press)

FBI agents raided a federal women’s prison in California this week so plagued by sexual abuse that it was known among inmates and workers as the “rape club.”

The action coincided with the ouster of the new warden from the federal correctional institution in Dublin. Warden Art Dulgov — just a few months into his tenure — and three other top managers were removed from their positions Monday by the federal Bureau of Prisons. Dulgov was the third new leader of the low-security prison since Warden Ray T. Garcia, who, along with more than half a dozen employees, was convicted of sexually assaulting multiple women serving time there.

Dulgov and staff are accused of retaliating against an inmate who testified in January in a class-action lawsuit that alleges “horrific abuse and exploitation” at the prison, with rampant sexual assault of incarcerated persons, according to a court filing.


The developments are the latest twist in a years-long scandal surrounding the facility. Since an FBI investigation was launched and resulted in arrests in 2021, eight FCI Dublin employees have been charged with sexually abusing inmates. Five have pleaded guilty, and two have been convicted by juries. Another employee is slated to go on trial this year.

Last year, Garcia was sentenced to 70 months in prison for sexually abusing incarcerated women and lying to the FBI as part of a cover-up.

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Legal experts say what has happened at the federal prison is indicative of the worst aspects of institutions with abusers in their midst.

“There is no accountability with some public entities, and the sexual abuse keeps festering and festering until it blows up,” said attorney David Ring, who has handled high-profile sexual assault litigation involving schools, facilities and Hollywood studios.

“They tend to shuffle the offenders,” he said. “Officials in prisons can be the worst because they are so jaded that all the complaints fall on deaf ears about the guards.”

Although FBI officials would not specify what triggered Monday’s raid at the prison, an attorney for the federal government said in a court filing that it comes on the heels of allegations of retaliation against staff. According to the filing in the class-action suit, the warden transferred an inmate who was a witness in a lawsuit against the prison, violating a judge’s court order that witnesses not be moved without the court’s approval.


On Monday, Nancy T. McKinney, a top regional Bureau of Prisons supervisor, was appointed interim warden of Dublin. She is the fourth person to hold the office since Garcia was removed.

Bureau officials acknowledged the leadership change, saying, “Recent developments have necessitated new executive employees be installed” at the prison, whose inmates have included Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman after their convictions in the college admissions scandal.

More than 130 women who were formerly inmates at prisons for women in California have filed suit, saying guards sexually abused them.

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FBI spokeswoman Cameron Polan told The Times that the agency “conducted court-authorized law enforcement activity at that location.” In addition to paperwork, computers were removed from the prison, according to a source familiar with the ongoing investigation.

The raid comes as the number of women who have come forward in lawsuits against guards and staff alleging sexual abuse and retaliation has reached 63. That number, according to attorneys, is expected to surpass 100.

No new officials have been charged in the investigation, which has spanned more than three years. It is a crime for any prison employee to have sexual activity with those incarcerated, and those behind bars cannot consent.

Last month, KTVU reported that an incarcerated woman, Rhonda Fleming, was put in the Special Housing Unit — a common prison punishment — and transferred to a facility in Los Angeles against a judge’s orders after she testified about the culture at FCI Dublin during a January hearing in a civil case filed on behalf of incarcerated persons at the prison.


An L.A. County probation officer was arrested late last week after an investigation revealed she allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship with a minor, authorities said.

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After learning of Fleming’s transfer, U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ordered prison authorities to return her to Dublin.

In March 2023, the judge referred to the prison’s “culture of sexual abuse” in sentencing Garcia, the former warden, whom she said had perpetuated that culture.

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.

He groped three incarcerated women and made them pose naked for photos. Before his sentencing, one of his victims told Garcia: “You are a predator and a pervert. You are a disgrace to the federal government.”

In 2022, one-time prison chaplain James Theodore Highhouse was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually assaulting a female inmate at FCI Dublin. Highhouse engaged in predatory conduct with at least six women from 2014 to 2019, according to prosecutors. He claimed God had brought them together, quoting the Bible and referencing King David’s many wives as justification for his actions.

“There is a culture of rot at Dublin,” another federal judge declared at Highhouse’s sentencing. “It’s important the world see this egregious conduct and see this serious penalty.”


The class-action lawsuit against the Bureau of Prisons alleges that FCI Dublin and other federal agencies failed to prevent, detect and investigate sexual abuse, placing those being held at the prison at substantial risk of sexual assault. The prison also houses transgender and nonbinary persons.

The lawsuit alleges that even as correctional officers were being sentenced, other guards continued to sexually harass, grope and assault those being held and subject some individuals to “transphobic harassment.”

Allegations of sexual assault at Dublin stretch back to the 1990s. Four employees were previously convicted of sexual abuse of inmates. Those incidents, along with civil litigation, forced the prison to commit to reforms.

But lawyers say those reforms were “ultimately ineffective or abandoned.” By the early 2010s, they note, “a dozen FCI Dublin employees were removed for sexual abuse, including one who videotaped himself having sex with inmates and stored tapes in a prison locker — but none were arrested.”

In 2019, a U.S. House subcommittee on national security found widespread misconduct in the federal prison system, with officials being shuffled from place to place.

That year, Garcia became the warden of Dublin, and a female prisoner reported to the FBI she had been raped by Highhouse.