SAN DIEGO, Calif. - A second woman who was sexually assaulted by a correctional officer at the Federal Correctional Institute in Dublin is now coming forward, saying she is so scared of what could happen that she has been cutting herself and is seeking witness protection from the government.
The woman, only known as Victim 2 in court documents, gave her attorney, Jessica Pride of San Diego, the clearance to speak Friday on her behalf.
The woman wanted to tell her story herself, but over the weekend got so worried about what could happen to her, moved into a safe house and is now seeking assistance from the federal government to protect her identity, as two of the officers who were charged with sexual assault are not yet behind bars.
"My client is terrified," Pride said.
One of those officers, Ross Klinger, has pleaded guilty to having sex with three women in 2020 at FCI Dublin and is scheduled to be sentenced in May. He is living in Riverside, 15 minutes away from one of those women.
The other officer, John Russell Bellhouse is out of custody and has entered a not guilty plea. Bellhouse has contacted Victim 2 since he has been out and that concerned her client, Pride said.
Both Klinger and Bellhouse were charged by federal prosecutors with sexual abuse of a ward.
They are among five correctional officers – including the now-retired Warden Ray J. Garcia – indicted in sex abuse charges since last June at FCI Dublin – an all-women's federal facility that sits next to Santa Rita Jail. The prison has been nicknamed the "rape club," the Associated Press reported.
Neither Klinger's nor Bellhouse's attorneys will comment on their clients' behalf.
Earlier this month, Andrea Reyes, known as Victim 1 in court documents, spoke to KTVU in an exclusive interview, detailing how Klinger had sex with her, dug into her personal psychological files to manipulate her and threatened to kill her when she wanted to call things off – specifically because she learned he was also having sex with Victim 2.
He told both Reyes and Victim 2 that he wanted to marry them when they got out.
Klinger gave Victim 2 a diamond ring and money. He said he wanted to have babies with her. Klinger was also married when he told both incarcerated women his desires.
Being tricked and betrayed by Klinger deeply affected both Reyes and Victim 2, who was incarcerated on drug charges and who harmed herself in prison when she found out she had been lied to.
"What my client wanted to communicate is how traumatic that experience was for her," Pride said. "If my client refused to participate with what Officer Klinger wanted from her as far as sexual contact, he told her he would harm her if she tried to stop, and then she began cutting herself out of depression and fear."
Sex between an officer an and someone who is incarcerated is illegal as the person who is behind bars cannot give consent because of the power dynamics. Federal prosecutors noted at least once when Klinger had sex with Victim 2 in a storage container while another woman served as a lookout.
The FBI documented at least 420 phone calls and 500 texts between Klinger and Victim 2 after she was released to a halfway house in September 2020. And in at least one Snapchat message, Klinger had his shirt off, court documents show.
"It's really important that people understand is that for correctional officers or anyone working in a prison, it is illegal to engage in sexual contact, to have sex, oral sex, any type of sexual conduct with an inmate," Pride said. "It is a violation of their Eighth Amendment rights. There is a complete abuse of power because inmates are trapped. They can't leave. They can't go anywhere."
And if Victim 2 didn't comply with what Klinger asked her to do, Pride said she was punished.
"Being raped was not a part of her sentence," Pride said. "She served her time for the crimes she committed. But being raped was not a part of it."
Victim 2 is getting therapy now but Pride said she is not doing well.
Because she is in a safe house, she had to cut off communication with her mother, children and friends. She has night terrors. And her mental health is suffering. She has filed a $5 million claim against the Bureau of Prisons – a precursor to a lawsuit.
"She is not OK," Pride said. "She's constantly in fear, and I think she'll be in fear until the entire rape club is behind bars."