Sex abuse scandal at Northern California women’s prison spurs lawsuit vs. feds

Sex abuse scandal at Northern California women’s prison spurs lawsuit vs. feds

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Class action lawsuit filed over sexual abuse at FCI Dublin women’s prison


Class action lawsuit filed over sexual abuse at FCI Dublin women’s prison

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Survivors of sexual abuse by employees at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, in Northern California, have filed a class action lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons, saying enough hasn’t  been done to stop the abuse.

Attorneys representing the eight survivors filed the lawsuit at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco.

“The Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) has been aware of these problems for decades and has failed, and continues to fail, to take action to protect those in its care by preventing and addressing rampant staff sexual misconduct,” the plaintiffs said in their filing. “In recent years, staff sexual abuse at FCI Dublin has been so severe that the facility became the center of a sprawling criminal investigation, multiple Congressional inquiries, and national media attention.”

A scathing report by The Associated Press last year found that prisoners and workers at the all-women’s facility had dubbed FCI Dublin “The rape club.” The report found a permissive and toxic culture at the prison, enabling years of sexual misconduct, cover-ups and retaliation for inmates who tried to speak up.

“We’re going to change history today,” Robin Lucas, a plaintiff in the case, said at a news conference Wednesday about the lawsuit. “I’m so glad to have everyone here to understand our struggle, to embrace our hearts, our trauma, and we’re going to kick in the door. These women will break the glass ceiling.”   

Eight former employees at the prison have faced criminal charges for abuse. Among them, former warden Ray Garcia, who was convicted late last year of molesting inmates and forcing them to pose naked in their cells.

Attorneys also said the agency has “long been aware of problems” at the facility, noting that three women who were assaulted at the prison in 1995 had filed a civil rights lawsuit and won a large settlement three years later.

“We cannot prosecute our way to a solution to the crisis at FCI Dublin,” said attorney Amaris Montes of  Rights Behind Bars, one of the groups representing the plaintiffs. “This isn’t a case of a few bad apples. We need systemic change that ensures survivors are released and receive care and that promotes safety for all those remaining inside.”

The lawsuit calls for the Bureau of Prisons to end retaliation against inmates reporting misconduct, immediately remove staff who have substantiated claims of abuse against them, ensure inmates’ access to counsel, and conduct an audit, regular inspections and ongoing monitoring by a third-party organization.

In a statement to CBS News Bay Area, the Bureau of Prisons said it doesn’t comment on matters of pending litigation, ongoing legal proceedings or ongoing investigations.

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