Former prison guard charged with sexually assaulting 13 inmates at California women’s prison


A former prison officer at California’s largest women’s prison has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting at least 13 inmates over the past nine years, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The Madera County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release that Gregory Rodriguez, who worked at the Central California Women’s Facility, faces 96 charges, including rape, sodomy, sexual assault and power-based rape.

On Wednesday, it was not possible to determine whether an attorney would be available to plead on behalf of the 54-year-old Rodriguez. He was being held in lieu of $7.8 million bail, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the assault allegations date back to 2014, but most occurred within the past two years.

Gregory Rodriguez.jpg
A photo provided by the Madera County Sheriff’s Office shows former prison officer Gregory Rodriguez at California’s largest women’s prison. He was charged with rape and sexually assaulting an inmate at Central Jail and was incarcerated at Madera County Jail on May 24, 2023. California Women’s Institution in Chowchilla, California.

Madera County Sheriff’s Office (via AP)

Prosecutors say the charges involve 13 separate victims. If convicted on all charges, Rodriguez could face a prison sentence of more than 300 years.

The women’s prison where Rodriguez worked for 12 years is located in Chowchilla, a small city about 190 miles southeast of San Francisco.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced in December that Rodriguez had been approached about the assault as part of an internal investigation and had resigned in August.

An investigation that found Rodriguez may have committed sexual misconduct against at least 22 inmates was turned over to the district attorney’s office earlier this year.

“These allegations in no way reflect the majority of prison officers acting professionally and doing their best to keep inmates safe and serve their time,” the prosecutor’s office said Wednesday. “We hope that the dismissal and arrest of this defendant will encourage them to continue their honorable profession of upholding the law every day.”

Two unidentified inmates at the prison, which houses about 2,100 inmates, filed a lawsuit in December, accusing Rodriguez of sexually assaulting him.

A 2003 federal law known as the Prison Rape Elimination Act created a “zero tolerance” policy for sexual assault of inmates.

But California prison officials have been accused of sexual misconduct in recent years. Among them is Israel Trevino, a former prison officer at the Central California Women’s Facility who was fired in 2018 after being accused of groping and sexually harassing inmates.

An Associated Press investigation found that a senior federal prison officer who worked at a women’s prison in the San Francisco Bay Area was repeatedly promoted following allegations of inmate assault.

Another study found patterns of sexual abuse by prison guards in women’s institutions.

Charges of this kind have spread far beyond California. Former prison officers in Kentucky and New Jersey were recently charged with sexually abusing and assaulting inmates.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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