Woman testifies Dublin prison doesn't follow rape elimination law

The first witness to testify against the former warden of the federal prison in Dublin said that the culture of the all-women's facility is that of sex abuse and retaliation – and there's no effort to change it.

"PREA (Pree-yah) does not exist in Dublin," Melissa said on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Oakland as the sex abuse trial against former warden Ray J. Garcia entered its second day.  "I've never heard of a PREA class or a program in the 11 years that I've been there."

Melissa is serving a 15-year sentence for conspiracy to murder. She was referring to the Prison Rape and Elimination Act. President George W. Bush signed it into law in 2003, with the goal of eradicating prisoner rape in all types of correctional facilities.

In 2019 and 2020, the years the sex abuse is alleged, Garcia directed training on the PREA and trained new supervisors on these procedures and policies as part of his official job duties.

And yet, prosecutors alleged that at least on one occasion, Garcia digitally penetrated Melissa in a prison changing stall on the same day that PREA investigators were visiting the prison. 

Tess Korth, a former unit manager at FCI Dublin who was forced out of her job for reporting abuse and has been attending the trial, said when she worked at the prison for 25 years, incarcerated women were handed brochures mentioning "a little blurb" about the federal law, just so that the "BOP could cover their ass."

Korth said she had suggested doing more with the PREA, such has holding a class on the topic and playing the law on TV sets around the prison. But her ideas, she said, were ignored. 

Susan Beaty, an attorney with Centro Legal de La Raza in Oakland who provides legal and emotional support to incarcerated women at FCI Dublin, said outside court that she thinks it "speaks volumes" that FCI Dublin was able to pass its PREA audit "with flying colors" last year, despite being embroiled in a national sex abuse scandal. 

"That tells you a lot," she said.

Added Dr. Terry Kupers, a forensic psychiatrist who testifies in prison cases: "This is so horrific, just thinking about the horrors these guys perpetuated, especially the warden who is the trainer about PREA issues and is the one the women should be able to go to grieve what the officers are doing, and then he does worse."

In an email, Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Randilee Giamusso wrote: "We have no comment." 

During the second day of trial, Garcia listened attentively to the witnesses, declining all comment as he passed through the hallways during breaks.

His attorney, James Reilly, told the jury on Monday that his client didn't do any of the things the federal government is accusing him of: He didn't digitally penetrate Melissa, didn't force another woman, Maria, to touch his penis and get naked and didn't fondle or grope the body parts of a third woman, Rachel.

He said all the women are convicted felons and there is no video evidence to prove what they said. 

Garcia retired last fall after the FBI found nude photos of inmates on his prison-issued phone last year, is among five correctional officers charged with abusing inmates at FCI Dublin --the most such charges of any prison in the United States. 

Federal prosecutors formally charged Garcia with abusing three women between December 2019 and July 2021, but jurors could hear from as many as six women who say he groped them and told them to pose naked or in provocative clothing

Three of those officers have pleaded guilty.

Garcia is the first to go to trial. He is the highest-ranking federal prison official arrested in more than 10 years.

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at lisa.fernandez@fox.com or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez