5th worker charged with sex abuse at federal women’s prison

Mar 23, 2022, 12:20 PM | Updated: 2:02 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — A fifth worker at a federal women’s prison in California has been charged with sexually abusing an inmate, and prosecutors say more arrests are expected at the lockup.

Enrique Chavez, a food service foreman at the federal correctional institution in Dublin, California, is accused of touching an inmate’s breasts, buttocks and genitals in October 2020, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday in federal court.

Chavez was indicted on March 10, while a Bureau of Prisons task force was at Dublin speaking with inmates and staff about ways to eliminate a culture of abuse at the prison. He was arrested Sunday in Arizona and had been on administrative leave for several months.

“The government is currently investigating additional suspects for related crimes,” prosecutors said in court papers. Investigators were planning to execute multiple search warrants on Wednesday, they said.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement that misconduct by bureau staff, “at any level, will not be tolerated, and our efforts to root it out are far from over.”

Chavez is charged with two counts of abusive sexual contact, which carries a maximum punishment of up to two years in prison. Information on his arraignment and a lawyer who could comment on his behalf was not immediately available.

Chavez is the fifth employee at the prison to be charged with sexual abuse of inmates since last June. Others include the prison’s former warden and a chaplain. Two of the people who have been arrested have pleaded guilty so far.

Chavez’s indictment comes after the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons convened a task force of 18 senior executives to visit Dublin, examine conditions and meet with inmates and staff members.

In a statement, Stephanie Hinds, the U.S. attorney in San Francisco, said correctional officers “have a trusted responsibility to protect those under their authority” and that “sexually abusing inmates is a betrayal of that responsibility and undermines a just penal system.”

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Sisak reported from New York

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5th worker charged with sex abuse at federal women’s prison