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Trial Opens For California Ex-Warden Accused Of Operating Prison 'Rape Club'
Ray J. Garcia served as the top official at Dublin Federal Correctional Institution in northern California, where actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman served time for the college admissions scandal.
The trial involving a former warden who allegedly sexually abused at least three inmates at a women’s federal prison in California is officially underway.
Ray J. Garcia, 55, ran Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin but was busted in 2021 after the FBI discovered nude images of inmates on his personal computer. He faces seven counts of sexual abuse conduct involving a trio of female inmates.
Garcia, who has pleaded not guilty to the allegations, is also charged with making false statements to a government agency.
At the trial’s opening on Monday, the court heard graphic testimony regarding the alleged sexual encounters, which were supposedly common knowledge amongst fellow staff and inmates — who referred to the brazen, systemic abuse as Garcia’s “rape club.”
Four other FCI Dublin officers have also been charged in the sprawling sexual abuse probe. Only one of them has pleaded not guilty.
In court this week, the first victim to testify said that Garcia repeated that he “wanted to f***” her several times and displayed nude images of himself “all the time,” Oakland television station KTVU reported.
"He would always talk about his penis," the victim inmate said in court, per KTVU. "He had sexual fantasies and I allowed it."
Garcia, she said, groomed her over a period of time, transforming from a “sweet gentleman to pornographic.” She recalled how the disgraced ex-warden showered her with compliments regarding her physical features and promised to pamper her with trips to Napa Valley when she was released prior to assaulting her.
"He made me feel special," the woman added. "I had feelings for him."
The woman testified in lurid detail how Garcia digitally penetrated her, molested her and forced her to touch his groin in a prison bathroom and a cell during incidents between 2019 and 2021.
At one point, the victim, who at times became tearful during her testimony, accused Garcia of coercing her into inserting a "half-eaten, sucked on" candy cane into vagina.
According to the case’s indictment obtained by Oxygen.com, Garcia also forced a victim to strip naked when he did rounds at the low-security women’s prison.
Garcia allegedly took photographs of the female inmate naked in a cell at FCI Dublin and also showed the victim pictures on his cellphone of his own genitalia. The complaint alleges Garcia maintained several nude photographs of the victim on his personal computer.
Federal investigators ultimately discovered hundreds of sexually graphic images as well as pictures of both male and female genitalia — including nude images of Garcia — on his work-issued cell phone.
Prosecutors say Garcia also tried to cover up his alleged actions by attempting to coerce at least one victim into staying silent. The former top prison official allegedly warned that inmate that he couldn’t be terminated from his position as he was “close friends” with the case investigator probing the sexual misconduct accusations.
At least one other victim inmate is expected to testify at Garcia’s trial.
On Monday, Garcia’s lawyers fired back at federal prosecutors for a perceived lack of evidence as the trial got underway.
"There’s no evidence whatsoever to support the claims that these things happened," defense attorney James Reilly said.
Garcia was placed on administrative leave in July 2021 in relation to the sexual abuse investigation. He later retired, according to a PBS report.
Dublin Federal Correctional Institution is a low security women’s prison where disgraced actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman served time following the "Varsity Blues" college entrance scam scandal. The prison, and its satellite prison camp, houses approximately 505 inmates, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The facility is located roughly 20 miles southeast of Oakland.
If convicted on all charges, Garcia faces a possible maximum sentence of 61 years in prison. Garcia, flanked by his legal team, declined to comment when pressed by reporters as he left court this week.