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Warden is ousted as FBI raids California women’s prison known as the ‘rape club’

Federal Correctional Institution, Dublin (FCI Dublin) in Dublin, California, in 2014. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

FBI agents on Monday raided a federal women’s prison in California so plagued by sexual abuse it was known among inmates and workers as the “rape club.” The action coincided with the ouster of the new warden from the federal correctional institution in Dublin.

As FBI agents hauled boxes from inside the Northern California prison, Warden Art Dulgov — just a few months into his tenure — and three other top managers were removed from their positions by the federal Bureau of Prisons.

Dulgov and staff are accused of retaliating against an inmate who testified in January in a lawsuit brought by female inmates against the prison, according to a court filing.

The developments are just the latest twist in a years-long scandal surrounding the facility. Since an FBI probe was launched and resulted in arrests in 2021, eight FCI Dublin employees have been charged with sexually abusing inmates. Five of them have pleaded guilty to charges, and two have been convicted by juries. Another employee is slated to go on trial this year.

Last year, former Warden Ray J. Garcia was sentenced to 70 months in prison for sexually abusing incarcerated women and lying to the FBI as part of a cover-up.

Although FBI officials would not specify what triggered Monday’s raid at the prison, an attorney for the federal government said in a court filing that it came on the heels of the allegations of retaliation against staff.

According to the filing, the warden transferred an inmate who was a witness in a lawsuit against the prison, violating a judge’s court order that witnesses not be moved without the court’s approval. Two captains and a third administrator were removed from the facility along with the warden.

On Monday, Nancy T. McKinney, a top regional Bureau of Prisons supervisor, was appointed interim warden of Dublin. She is the fourth person to hold the office since Garcia was removed.

BOP officials acknowledged the leadership change, saying, “Recent developments have necessitated new executive employees be installed” at the prison, whose inmates have included Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman after their convictions in the college admissions scandal.

FBI spokeswoman Cameron Polan told The Times that the agency “conducted court-authorized law enforcement activity at that location.” In addition to paperwork, computers were removed from the prison, according to a source familiar with the ongoing probe.

The raid comes as the number of women who have come forward to allege sexual abuse and retaliation in lawsuits against guards and staff has reached 63.

As of Monday evening, no new officials had been charged in the more than three-year investigation into sexual abuse at FCI Dublin.

Last month, KTVU reported that an incarcerated woman, Rhonda Fleming, was put into the Special Housing Unit — a common prison punishment — and transferred to a facility in Los Angeles against a judge’s orders after she testified about the culture at FCI Dublin during a January hearing in a civil case.

U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, after learning of Fleming’s transfer, ordered the prison authorities to return her to Dublin.

In March of last year, the judge referred to the prison’s “culture of sexual abuse” in sentencing former Warden Garcia, whom she said had perpetuated that culture.

A federal jury in Oakland found him guilty of three counts of sex with an incarcerated person, four counts of abusive sexual contact and one count of lying to the FBI.

He fondled and groped three women incarcerated at the prison in Dublin and made them pose naked for photos. Before his sentencing, one of his victims told Garcia: “You are a predator and a pervert. You are a disgrace to the federal government.”


© 2024 Los Angeles Times

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