A correctional officer became the fifth staff member charged in a still-unfolding sexual abuse scandal at a federal women’s prison in the East Bay, authorities said.
A two-count indictment accuses the officer, Enrique Chavez, of touching the genitals, breasts and buttocks of a woman incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institute in Dublin on at least two occasions in October 2020.
Chavez, 49, of Manteca, is charged with two counts of abusive sexual contact in connection with the assaults. Prosecutors say he took advantage of his authority as a food service supervisor.
“Correctional officers have a trusted responsibility to protect those under their authority,” Stephanie M. Hinds, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, said in a statement. “Sexually abusing inmates is a betrayal of that responsibility and undermines a just penal system.”
Chavez is the latest to be charged in the widening scandal at the prison, which has led to sexual abuse indictments against the former warden, two former prison guards and a prison chaplain.
No attorney is listed on Chavez’s court docket. The indictment against him, which was filed under seal March 10, was made public Wednesday.
If convicted, Chavez faces up to two years in prison on each count, up to a $250,000 fine and three years of probation.
Authorities said they anticipate further arrests in the scandal, the Associated Press reported.
The Dublin prison, about 20 miles southeast of Oakland, is a low security institution with an adjacent minimum security camp and houses about 750 women. Actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin served time there after their convictions in a college admissions scheme.
In January, the chaplain, James Theodore Highhouse, was charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a ward under his control, two counts of committing abusive sexual contact and one count of making false statements to federal officials.
Four months earlier, the prison’s warden, Ray J. Garcia, was charged with a litany of crimes.
Throughout his career at the facility, Garcia repeatedly sexually assaulted one inmate and sexually harassed another, prosecutors alleged. He allegedly stored hundreds of graphic photos on his work computer, including of the assault victim naked in her cell.
Last June, a correctional officer, Ross Klinger, was charged with sexually abusing two inmates.
Prosecutors alleged that Klinger had sex with at least two inmates, reportedly telling both women that he wanted to father their children and that he intended to marry them. He also allegedly gave money and gifts to the women and their families.
Federal authorities also charged John R. Bellhouse, the prison’s safety administrator who supervised Klinger on the facility’s recycling crew, with a single count of sexual abuse of a ward, according to court filings.