Civil Rights

Two Additional Correctional Officers Found Guilty of Sexual Assault at FCI Dublin

July 14, 2023
Empty prison hallway

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On Friday, July 14, 2023, Nakie Nunley and Andrew Jones, two correctional officers at FCI Dublin entered a guilty plea agreement to multiple counts of sexual abuse, joining six other officers who have already been indicted of abusive sexual contact over the last few months. Following an investigative report in February 2022 which revealed the prison to be nicknamed the “rape club” among inmates and staff, FCI Dublin has been under scrutiny by the Federal Government for widespread misconduct.

Newly Convicted Officers

Former correctional officers Nakie Nunley and Andrew Jones are the two newest officers to be convicted of abusive sexual contact at FCI Dublin. Notably, both officers entered a guilty plea agreement prior to their indictment which typically only occurs when the defendant has committed a very severe offense.

Nakie Nunley pleaded guilty to four felony charges of sexual abuse and five lesser felonies of abusive sexual contact against five incarcerated women. All of Nunley’s victims worked at the UNICOR call center, and Nunley also admitted to abusing two other women who were not listed in the indictment. While Nunley was employed at Dublin, he wrongfully entered intimate emotional relationships with women at the prison, as investigators uncovered love letters and sexual notes he changed with multiple women. He also wrongfully threatened women who didn’t initially comply with him, stating he could make their lives “easier or harder.”

Andrew Jones was the former cook supervisor at FCI Dublin and pleaded guilty to six felony charges of sexual abuse against three women he supervised. Both officers also pleaded guilty to making false statements to the government. Like Nunley, Jones also admitted to engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct with other women who were not listed on his indictment.

Following both guilty pleas, Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz stated that the Department of Justice is continuing to aggressively pursue all allegations of assault at Dublin. U.S. Attorney Ismal J. Ramsey also echoed this sentiment stating, that correctional officers have an obligation to ensure the safety of all incarcerated persons, and the Department of Justice will hold those that fail to do so accountable.

“This Office’s ongoing investigation into FCI Dublin has revealed significant findings of wrongdoing by multiple correctional officers at that facility,” said U.S. Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey of the Northern District of California. “The Department of Justice has repeatedly warned that criminal misconduct in the care and safety of incarcerated persons will not be tolerated”

All Indicted FCI Dublin Officers

In May of 2022, 25 employees at FCI Dublin were placed on leave for allegations of misconduct and sexual assault, and as of now eight correctional officers including the former warden, have pleaded guilty to sexual assault.

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) mandates that the Bureau of Prisons establishes proper protocols to prevent sexual abuse form occurring in the first place as well as strict reporting and investigation policies in the event that it does. However, prison officials neglected to inform inmates and staff of these policies and threatened to retaliate against anyone who did. As a result, correctional officers were emboldened to engage in sexual misconduct and hundreds of women were put at risk.

As of July 2023, at least eight former FCI Dublin correctional officers have been charged with sexual abuse or abusive sexual contact of a ward:

  • Warden Ray J. Garcia was convicted of seven counts of sexually abusive contact against three women while he was warden of the facility and responsible for training new supervisors regarding PREA. Garcia is currently the highest-ranking federal official to be sentenced since 1925, and he is the only warden who has been convicted of sexual abuse.
  • John Russel Bellhouse was convicted of five counts of sexually abusive contact involving two women from 2019 to 2020.
  • Chaplain James Highhouse pleaded guilty to five counts of sexually abusive contact while he was prison chaplain and led religious-based classes at the facility.
  • Enrique Chavez pleaded guilty to one count of sexually abusive contact while he worked as a prison cook at the facility.
  • Ross Klinger pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual abuse of at least two inmates while he worked as a recycling technician at the facility.
  • Chaplain James Highhouse was convicted to five counts of sexually abusive contact while he was prison chaplain and led religious-based classes at the facility.
  • Darrell Smith aka “dirty dick Smith” was indicted for twelve counts of sexually abusive contact against two women.
  • Nakie Nunley entered a guilty plea agreement to nine charges of sexually abusive contact against five women.
  • Andrew Jones entered a guilty plea agreement to six counts of sexual abuse against three women he supervised in the kitchen.

At the moment, sexual abuse allegations against additional correctional officers are still being investigated. Attorney Jaehyun Oh of Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm is currently representing several victims of sexual assault by both the employees listed above and against officers who have not yet been criminally charged.

Is Change on the Horizon?

In July of 2022, FCI Dublin began to receive federal attention after being named in a Senate Hearing for staffing shortages, former warden Ray J. Garcia’s indictment, and their nickname as the “rape club.” FCI Dublin is one of many prisons where women have wrongfully been sexually assaulted, however the number of women and correctional officers who were involved is particularly concerning.

In December of 2022, Attorney Jaehyun Oh was involved in a Senate Hearing regarding the sexual abuse of Female Inmates in Federal Prisons. At the hearing our client Carolyn Richardson testified about her own experience being assaulted while incarcerated at the now closed Manhattan Correctional Center, where she testified that the correctional officer told her cell was in a “perfect area” because the security camera would not see him coming or going. Less than 24 hours after the hearing, Congress passed the Prison Camera Reform Act to security measures at all BOP prisons.

There is no justification for sexual abuse of an inmate, and the federal government must be held accountable for being complicit in and perpetuating abuse. In 2022, the Attorney Jaehyun Oh obtained the largest publicly known settlement against the federal government for sexual assault on behalf of Carolyn Richardson and two other women who were sexually assaulted by the same correctional officer.

Ms. Oh, the lawyer who handled the $3 million settlement, said it showed there was at least “a way to hold the government accountable — not just the individual who did it, as if they are just like one bad apple that fell far from the tree.”

“This can only be allowed to go on for so long and so frequently in that kind of controlled environment by the complicity of other people, in my opinion,” Ms. Oh said.

At the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm, we can help you take legal action against the prison staff who were responsible for and complicit in causing your abuse. Our experienced team of prison sexual assault attorneys can help survivors process their trauma and seek justice, in a way that feels comfortable and validating for an individual survivor.

Contact us today for a free strictly confidential consultation.

We can help when the unimaginable happens.