Former Correctional Officer Gregory Rodriguez Charged With Sexually Assaulting 22 Female Inmates at Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla
CHOWCHILLA, CALIFORNIA (August 21, 2023) – Gregory Rodriguez, a former correctional officer at Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, was arrested on suspicion of inmate sexual abuse.
Madera County officials are saying that officers began investigating the defendant last July. Gregory Rodriguez has been accused of sexually abusing at least 22 female inmates.
The allegations date all the way back to 2014. However, most of the assaults are believed to have taken place over the last two years. They include rape by force of fear and unlawful oral copulation.
Prosecutors have said that he has also been charged with one count of bringing contraband into the Central California Women’s Facility. So far, 13 of the victims have been identified.
Gregory Rodriguez was booked into the Madera County jail and has been arraigned. If convicted on all charges, he is facing over 300 years in prison. Prosecutors are looking into the possibility that there may be additional victims.
Liability For Sexual Assaults At The Central California Women’s Facility
Sexual assaults within prisons and jails is unfortunately very common. According to one study in the Journal of Urban Health, “People in prison are exposed to and experience sexual violence […], further exposing them to communicable diseases and trauma. Rates of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization in the previous 6 months were highest for female inmates (212 per 1,000), more than four times higher than male rates (43 per 1,000).” Inmates are also vulnerable to sexual abuse at the hands of correctional officers. The level of sexual violence within prisons is affected by many factors including:
- Overcrowding within the prison.
- The management style of prison supervisors.
- The level of training correctional officers receive.
- Under-staffing of correctional officers and medical personnel.
It is illegal for any member of law enforcement to have a sexual relationship with a person in-custody. Pursuant to California Penal Code 289.6, it is illegal for any person employed by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to engage in sexual activity with an adult in a detention facility. It does not matter whether the adult offered their consent. It is widely understood that a person who is incarcerated is not able to offer meaningful consent to a person who has great authority over their life. In addition to criminal charges against individual perpetrators, a jail or other institution could face civil liability for sexual abuse that takes place under their watch.
Prisons have a legal responsibility to keep the inmates they care for safe, especially from sexual violence. This is particularly important for vulnerable groups including women, children, gay and transgender prisoners. When a prison fails to take steps to protect inmates from sexual violence this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. In particular, a jail could be liable for the sexual abuse of a correctional officer if they had actual or constructive notice of past violations which they failed to remedy. A jail may have also been grossly negligent in supervising an officer or were otherwise deliberately indifferent to a known risk of harm.
Victims of sexual abuse by correctional officers have often had a difficult time pursuing claims because of the statute of limitations. After the passage of Assembly Bill 1455, victims of sexual abuse by correctional officers have additional time to file civil claims. In particular, victims may file a lawsuit up to 10 years after their attacker left the law enforcement agency they were working at when the attack occurred. Victims are also able to sue in civil court up to 10 years after their assailant was convicted of sexual assault or a crime in which sexual assault was initially alleged. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any instance of sexual abuse in prison.
- Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
- Surveillance footage should be sought.
- The disciplinary records of the assailant should be reviewed.
- Medical records related to the assaults should be carefully preserved.
- An experienced sexual abuse attorney should be contacted.
Sexual abuse inside of prisons tends to thrive when there is indifference from the top down. It is rarely a secret that one correctional officer may be abusing inmates. By the time any correctional officer is found guilty of sexual assault, there were often many red flags either missed or ignored. Many prison employees will fail to report sexual abuse within prisoners out of fear of losing their jobs. Any person that is sexually abused by a correctional officer may have legal recourse through a civil claim. A sexual abuse attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.
Getting Legal Help After Sexual Abuse At Central California Women’s Facility
We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our best wishes to all of the women who may have been harmed by Gregory Rodriguez. There is absolutely no excuse for what happened. It is our sincere hope that there is accountability for what happened for the sake of all of the victims. Any person that may have additional information should speak with Madera County prosecutors.
Have you or someone that you care about been sexually abused at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla? There are a number of laws designed to protect your rights. Our team of highly experienced sexual abuse attorneys are here to help in any way that we can. We specialize in helping people who have been abused by correctional officers and police officers. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of support we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (949) 825-5200.