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Former guard accused of sexually assaulting 13 at California women’s prison

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

Gregory Rodriguez, who worked at a Central California women’s facility, faces 96 counts, including rape under color of authority, sex, sexual battery and rape, the Madera County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

It could not be determined Wednesday if Rodriguez, 54, has an attorney who can speak on his behalf. He is being held in lieu of $7.8 million bail, the DA’s office said.

The alleged assaults date back to 2014, but most occurred within the past two years, prosecutors said.


Photo provided by the Madera County Sheriff’s Office shows Gregory Rodriguez, a former corrections officer at California’s largest women’s prison, who was booked into the Madera County Jail on May 24, 2023 after being accused of raping and sexually assaulting inmates at Central. California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, California.

Madera County Sheriff’s Office via AP

According to the DA’s office, the charges involve 13 separate victims. If convicted on all charges, Rodriguez could face more than 300 years in prison.

The women’s prison where Rodriquez worked for 12 years is located in Chowchilla, a small town about 120 miles southeast of San Francisco.

Rodriguez retired in August after being contacted about the assault as part of an internal investigation, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in December.

The investigation, which found that Rodriguez may have engaged in sexual misconduct against at least 22 inmates, was turned over to the district attorney’s office earlier this year.

“These allegations are in no way a reflection of the vast majority of corrections officers who act professionally and do their best to ensure inmates serve their time while being safe,” the DA’s office said Wednesday. “It is our hope that the removal and arrest of this defendant will encourage them to continue their honorable profession of upholding the law every day.”

Two unidentified inmates filed a lawsuit against Rodriguez in December alleging sexual abuse at the prison, which houses about 2,100 inmates.

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 still been accused of sexual misconduct in recent years. That includes Israel Trevino, a former correctional officer at a Central California women’s facility who was fired in 2018 after allegedly making sexually harassing comments to inmates.

An Associated Press investigation found that a high-ranking Federal Bureau of Prisons official who previously worked at a women’s prison in the San Francisco Bay Area was repeatedly promoted after he was accused of assaulting inmates.

Another investigation found a pattern of sexual abuse by correctional officers at women’s facilities.

Such complaints extend beyond California. Former prison officials in Kentucky and New Jersey have recently been accused of sexually abusing or abusing inmates.

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