Thursday 16 February 2023

‘Rape Club’: Former Inmate Alleges Correctional Officers Sexually Abused Prisoners

 A former inmate has filed a civil suit against prison guard for sexually assaulting her while she was incarcerated and presiding over a prison “rape culture.”

Former inmate Genesis Preciado pleaded guilty to smuggling methamphetamine in 2020 at the age of 21 and was sentenced to two years in the Federal Correctional Institution, Dublin (FCI Dublin) women’s prison outside San Francisco, according to local outlet KRON4 News.

Court documents allege that guard John Russell Bellhouse told Preciado he fantasized about her when he was at home. “He told her that she was ‘pretty’ and that he ‘liked’ her, and that when he went home, instead of watching porn, he thinks of doing things to her,” the lawsuit alleges, according to the outlet.

Bellhouse is one of five correctional officers charged with sex crimes against female inmates in the Dublin institute. He pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial in June.

Preciado alleges in the lawsuit that Bellhouse violated her constitutional rights by making sexual advances and groping her. The lawsuit claims Preciado told the 42-year-old guard to stop, but that he continued the “outrageous” abuse, KRON4 reported.

Preciado worked in the recycling unit at the satellite Federal Prison Camp, Dublin, where Bellhouse was the manager. He had near-daily contact with her, which appeared to be deliberately arranged. “Another guard, Officer Klinger, told Ms. Preciado to work in recycling which Bellhouse controlled. Ms. Preciado is informed and believes she was assigned to the recycling unit so that Bellhouse could abuse her,” attorneys wrote in the legal documents, according to KRON4.

Former prison warden Ray J. Garcia of FCI Dublin, also named in the lawsuit, was convicted on eight counts of abuse and lying to FBI agents in 2022 after videos of naked women in the jail cells were found on his cell phone, the outlet reported.

Legal documents alleged Garcia “personally initiated the practices and customs that resulted in the Dublin ‘rape club,'” according to KRON4.

The suit described the abusive environment to which female inmates were allegedly subjected. “Officer Bellhouse, Officer Kingler, Warden Ray Garcia, and other BOP employees, including Officer James Townsend, Chaplain Hightower, and Officer Bell, fostered a culture of rampant sexual abuse of prisoners widely referred to as ‘the rape club,'” court documents allege, per the outlet. “The culture, custom and policies of rape, sexual abuse and sexual harassment at FCI-Dublin and FCP Dublin, were enabled by the highest levels of staff.”

Garcia retired in 2021, shortly after the nude photos were discovered on his phone. Preciado was released from jail in January 2021.

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