Court OKs ex-warden’s trial for guard’s sex with inmates

By David Eugene Archer Sr.

A former California prison warden can face trial in a sex abuse case, a federal appeals court ruled in October, said the Press Enterprise.

Guillermo Garcia, former warden of the California Institution for Women (CIW), lost his appeal in a federal appeals court on Oct. 12, Oakland-based Justice First Attorneys at Law said.

Garcia had claimed “he should be immune from liability and dismissed from the case,” said a news release from Justice First, plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Jossie Ramos and Melissa Ortiz are the plaintiffs who were prisoners at CIW, where Correctional Officer Gary Swatzell allegedly subjected them to ongoing sexual abuse. Swatzell abused his authority by making threats and bribes in exchange for sexual contact with the inmates, according to the complaint.

The complaint continued, Ramos and Ortiz “were repeatedly coerced into engaging in sexual acts with Swatzell without their lawful consent. Ramos was impregnated by Swatzell and delivered a child who she is now unable to care for and raise.”

The child is now 5 years old, the news release states.

Garcia “knew or should have known about the sexual misconduct and retaliation” perpetrated by one of his officers, the lawsuit charged. Garcia “failed to prevent further harm to plaintiffs,” the suit added.

“Mr. Garcia ignored several reports from a prison lieutenant that former Corrections Officer Gary Swatzell was engaging in sexual misconduct with several inmates,” Justice First lawyers said.

Garcia “didn’t report Swatzell’s alleged sexual misconduct to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and ignored the lieutenant’s complaint that Swatzell physically assaulted her in retaliation for reporting his sexual misconduct,” reported the Press Enterprise.

In addition to Garcia and Swatzell, other defendants are correctional officers Jason Horigan, Ricardo Llamas, Sgt. Luis Flores, and Lt. Peggy Maldonado, as well as Matthew Cate, then secretary of CDCR, the complaint said.

The state Attorney General’s Office is representing the defendants. A representative could not be reached for comment, the Press Enterprise said.

The case is expected to go to trial in 2017, the news release stated.

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