With over 122 prisons in America, you have to wonder how common this kind of behavior really is.
A male warden is on trial for allegedly running a “rape club” at the California women’s prison where Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman and Allison Mack all have served time.
In what has been called a shocking abuse of power, Ray J. Garcia, 55, was the top official at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin when the FBI allegedly caught him with naked pictures of inmates in their cells on his government-issued phone in 2021.
At the opening of his trial on seven counts of sexual abuse conduct involving three female inmates, the court heard how the alleged incidents by Garcia and his staff were so open that inmates referred to it as “rape club.”
Four other prison officials have also been charged with sexual abuse, two of whom have already pleaded guilty.
An inmate named Melissa, whose last name was withheld, testified that Garcia told her repeatedly he “wanted to f—k” her and showed her naked pictures of himself “all the time,” according to reports.
Prosecutors said Garcia digitally penetrated Melissa and forced her to touch his penis between 2019 and 2021. The incidents took place in the prison bathroom and cell, where Garcia allegedly would insert “half-eaten, sucked-on” candy canes into her vagina.
“He would always talk about his penis,” Melissa testified. “He had sexual fantasies and I allowed it.”
Prosecutors said Garcia, who was warden from November 2020 until he was placed on administrative leave in July 2021, allegedly kept victims quiet by promising he would help them get an early release.
Melissa told investigators she complied with Garcia even though she was embarrassed and hurt during their sexual encounters.
Prosecutors said Garcia sexually abused the women in areas of the prison where he knew there were no cameras.
Garcia, arrested in September 2021, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Dublin — located about 20 miles southeast of Oakland and able to accommodate about 650 inmates — is often referred to as “Club Fed” because it has housed a slew of celebrities over the years, including Patty Hearst and Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss.
Felicity Huffman served 11 days of a two-week sentence in 2019 after admitting her part in the college admissions scandal.
Lori Loughlin served almost two months at the prison in 2020 for her role in the same case. Though Garcia worked at the prison while both women were there, it is unknown if they ever met him.
Garcia was officially removed from his post about a month after actress Allison Mack started her three-year sentence in June 2021 on racketeering and conspiracy charges related to her role in the NXIVM cult scandal.
An inmate’s complaint of abuse by two Dublin workers in 2020 triggered the FBI criminal investigation that led to Garcia’s arrest.
The former warden is the highest-ranking federal prison official to be arrested in more than a decade. He could face a maximum sentence of over 100 years and a fine of $250,000 if found guilty on all charges.