A prison guard confessed to sexual misconduct. He got a year of paid time off and no charges

The Guardian

 

October 30, 2023

Women incarcerated in California state prisons have filed hundreds of complaints of sexual abuse by staff since 2014. But in that time frame, only four officers have been terminated for sexual misconduct, according to data obtained by the Guardian. And only four guards have been confirmed to have faced criminal charges for their behavior.
 

One of the guards who was prosecuted, Gregory Rodriguez, has been accused of assaulting and harassing at least 22 women at the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF). He retired while under investigation and is awaiting trial on nearly 100 charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

Read the full story from the Guardian.

She repeatedly reported a prison guard’s sexual abuse. It took years for officials to believe her

The Guardian

By:  

April 11, 2024

Nilda Palacios had nowhere to turn.

It was June 2016 inside the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF), the state’s largest women’s prison, and her cellmate had become abusive and violent, she recalled in an interview. Officers had refused her request for a room transfer. Her final hope: begging for help from Tony Ormonde, the sergeant who ran the yard.

“I can do the bed move, but you gotta do something for me,” she remembers him responding.

In the weeks after the transfer, the sergeant began summoning her to his office and other private locations, where he sexually harassed and assaulted her, Palacios said. The abuse continued for months: “I’d cry and ask why I put myself in this situation. I’d leave with disgust and feel used, and I’d hate that I didn’t have the choice to say no.”

Read full article from The Guardian.

Judge will appoint special master to oversee California federal women’s prison after rampant abuse

sfchronicle.com

March 15, 2024

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A special master will be appointed to oversee a troubled federal women’s prison in California known for rampant sexual abuse against inmates, a judge ordered Friday, marking the first time the federal Bureau of Prisons has been subject to such oversight.

A 2021 Associated Press investigation that found a culture of abuse and cover-ups at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin brought increased scrutiny from Congress and the Bureau of Prisons. The low-security prison and its adjacent minimum-security satellite camp, located about 21 miles (34 kilometers) east of Oakland, have more than 600 inmates.

Read Full Article from the S.F. Chronicle Here. 

 

MARCH 15, 2024 PRESS RELEASE BY DUBLIN PRISON SOLIDARITY COALITION

March 15, 2024

For Immediate Release

Federal Judge Orders Appointment of Special Master to Oversee FCI Dublin, Prison where Sexual Assault Against Incarcerated People Runs Rampant

[Content warning: this press release mentions SA, r*pe]

OAKLAND, California – In a critical decision that condemns Federal Corrections Institute (FCI) Dublin as a “dysfunctional mess,” Federal Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ordered the unprecedented appointment of a special master to oversee the facility, where dozens of incarcerated people have survived sexual assault, rape, extreme retaliation, threats of deportation, medical neglect and a host of other forms of violence at the hands of Bureau of Prison officials for decades. The order also grants plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, making every incarcerated person held at FCI Dublin – including anyone sent there from now on – part of the class. Judge Gonzalez Rogers made it clear that she considers there are still serious concerns with FCI Dublin, including ongoing sexual abuse, retaliation, and inadequate medical and mental care. The lawsuit was filed by survivors of sexual assault at FCI Dublin and the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), who are represented by Rights Behind Bars (RBB), the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice and Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP (RBGG).

“We are encouraged that the court has taken the systemic issues at FCI Dublin seriously and ordered relief,” said Amaris Montes, attorney at Rights Behind Bars representing the plaintiffs, “There’s never been a facility like FCI Dublin, that’s why this first of its kind relief is necessary but only the first step to bringing justice for survivors. The only way to truly protect people is to bring them home.” 

“This unprecedented decision on the need for oversight shows that courageous incarcerated people, community and dedicated lawyers can collectively challenge the impunity of the federal government and Bureau of Prisons,” said Emily Shapiro, a member of California Coalition for Women Prisoners. “We need to bring people home where they can heal, receive reliable healthcare, get away from the mold and asbestos in the prison, and be free from abusers.”

The order states that “without injunctive relief, plaintiffs will face ongoing retaliation, including internal transfer to the SHU or external transfer to an outside facility, for filing allegations of sexual abuse” and that staffing shortages mean that “plaintiffs risk imminent and serious medical injury, including lack of treatment for serious medical ailments, psychological distress, and risk of suicide,” and that “the situation can no longer be tolerated.”

The exact timeline for the appointment of the special master and the scope of their access and responsibilities is yet to be determined, but another hearing has been scheduled for March 27, 2024.

Media Contacts:

Courtney Hanson, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, 916-316-0625, courtney[@]womenprisoners.org

Alex Mensing, California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice, 415.684.5463, alex[@]ccijustice.org

Another Dublin Women’s Prison Officer Sentenced for Sexual Abuse

kqed.org

By: Sydney Johnson

Mar 27, 2024

Allegations of sexual abuse at FCI Dublin go back decades, and the most recent scandals began unraveling in 2021 after an investigation by The Associated Press revealed a culture of abuse and cover-up at the facility. The former warden, chaplain and multiple other officers have been charged and sentenced, but allegations of abuse have continued.

FCI Dublin is currently facing 63 individual lawsuits over sexual misconduct and retaliation by officers, including 12 filed this year. A separate class-action lawsuit was filed by eight women incarcerated at FCI Dublin, alleging women at the prison were subject to rampant and ongoing sexual abuse, including rape and sexual assault, drugging, groping and being forced to take explicit photos.

It also claims women incarcerated at the facility were subject to abuse during medical exams and that immigrants were threatened with deportation if they did not comply.

Nunley, who is from Fairfield, served in the U.S. Air Force before working for the Bureau of Prisons. In July 2023, he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing five women who were serving prison sentences while he was a supervisor for inmates working at a call center called UNICOR.

The call center was a desirable place to work because it paid more than other jobs at the facility and women could gain transferable work skills, Molly Priedeman, assistant United States attorney who is prosecuting the case, said in court on Wednesday. She said the guard took advantage of his position and threatened women with firing and other punishment if they didn’t comply with sex acts.

“He held his victims’ jobs, their livelihood within the prison walls within his hands, and he used that power to harass, degrade his numerous victims,” Priedeman said. “This is not just a case where there are implicit power dynamics at play. … A number of his victims have described nightmares, suicidal thoughts.”

In his plea deal, Nunley admitted that he lied to federal investigators about sexually abusing his victims and about sending one of his victims sexually explicit notes. When confronted about his behavior, Nunley threatened to transfer one woman who was incarcerated at the prison to another facility and that she could lose her job.

At Wednesday’s court hearing in Oakland, women currently incarcerated at FCI Dublin testified about their experiences with Nunley. One inmate said that Nunley promoted her in the call center “because he told me he liked the way I looked” and that he repeatedly sexually assaulted her in his office.

“I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed,” the woman testified on Wednesday over a phone call. “Mr. Nunley became more and more aggressive with me after this incident. I felt scared. I didn’t know what he would do next.”

Another woman who was formerly incarcerated at the prison shared that Nunley left her a dozen sexually explicit notes and raped her after a shift at the call center. When she reported the notes and behavior, she said an officer laughed to the point of tears. After Nunley admitted to the acts, she received compassionate release.

Several family members testified in support of Nunley in the courtroom on Wednesday. “I understand and accept the allegations made against my husband,” said Samantha Nunley, the defendant’s wife. “I do not think that these actions define him as a person.”

Nunley himself addressed the judge and women who had testified in person on Wednesday, sharing that he has been active in therapy and a treatment program for sexual offenders.

“I stand here today in a place I never thought I would be, but I know that it is my own actions that brought me to this place. I want to first and foremost apologize to the women that I violated at FCI Dublin,” he said. “I’m really sorry I didn’t fulfill that promise I wanted to fulfill for them. I’m so sorry to all of those who were affected by my actions.”

Despite several convictions already, the situation at FCI Dublin has continued to spiral, and more reports of retaliation have come forward throughout criminal proceedings.

It is so dire at the facility that Judge Gonzalez Rogers earlier this month approved a request to appoint a special master to oversee mandatory changes to address sexual abuse and retaliation at FCI Dublin, a first in Bureau of Prisons history.

Attorneys for plaintiffs and defendants have since submitted their proposals for the special master, which the judge will select in the coming weeks.

The judge’s decision about the special master came less than a week after an FBI raid at the facility. The prison’s warden — the third to step in since an earlier warden was charged with sexual abuse at the prison — and three other top officials were abruptly replaced.

“The situation can no longer be tolerated. The facility is in dire need of immediate change,” she wrote in her order. “The court finds the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) has proceeded sluggishly with intentional disregard of the inmates’ constitutional rights despite being fully apprised of the situation for years. The repeated installation of BOP leadership who fail to grasp and address the situation strains credulity. The court is compelled to intercede.”