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More inmates come forward with lawsuits against Calif. CO accused of sexual assault

The former CO is being held without bond with charges alleging 39 individual sexual assaults and other counts that could net him up to 300 years in prison


Eight more inmates have filed lawsuits alleging they were sexually assaulted and abused inside the Central California Women’s Facility.

Tomas O’Valle/Fresno Bee file

By Sam Stanton
The Sacramento Bee

CHOWCHILLA, Calif. — Eight more inmates have filed lawsuits alleging they were sexually assaulted and abused inside the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, where former corrections officer Greg Rodriguez is suspected of attacking at least 22 inmates and now faces 96 criminal counts that include rape, sodomy, sexual battery and rape threatening to use authority.

The latest lawsuits, filed this month in federal court in Fresno, accuse Rodriguez and other staffers of physically and sexually abusing inmates, and allege that California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials failed to heed warnings about the abuse dating as far back as 2014.

“CDCR and the state of California failed to take any action against Rodriguez even though correctional officers were submitting written complaints regarding staff sexual misconduct committed by Rodriguez in 2014,” says one lawsuit filed on behalf of a Sacramento woman who alleges she was raped in 2022 by Rodriguez inside a hearing room.

The woman is identified as “Jane Doe #6” in a criminal complaint Madera County District Attorney Sally Moreno filed against Rodriguez in May.

“If CDCR and the state of California had properly investigated the prior complaints by staff against Rodriguez in 2014, Jane Doe #6 could have been protected, and the twelve charged counts of rape and forcible oral copulation that occurred in 2014 may have been prevented,” her lawsuit, filed by Rocklin attorney Robert Chalfant, alleges.

That suit is one of four Chalfant has filed on behalf of Chowchilla inmates who say Rodriguez sexually abused and raped them by escorting them into a Board of Parole Hearing office, ostensibly to clean it.

The office has no video cameras inside and Rodriguez used the room to sexually assault the women, the suits say.

Rodriguez, 55, had worked as a guard at Chowchilla since 2010 but retired last August as CDCR investigators were looking into allegations against him.

He is being held without bond at the Madera County Jail, online records show, with charges alleging 39 individual sexual assaults and other counts that could net him up to 300 years in prison.

Corrections officials have said the charges Rodriguez faces stem from CDCR’s own internal investigation and have condemned his alleged actions since they first became public in December, after Chalfant filed his first two lawsuits.

“As stated when we brought this case to light, the department resolutely condemns any staff member — especially a peace officer who is entrusted to enforce the law — who violates their oath and shatters the trust of the public,” the department said after Rodriguez was arrested in May.

In addition to the lawsuits filed by four women Chalfant represents, six other inmates sued CDCR, Rodriguez, former Acting Warden Michael Pallares and other officials last week, alleging physical and sexual abuse by Rodriguez and other staffers.

The plaintiffs, Charlene Stith, Victoria Green, Tremaine Carroll, Jonathan Robertson, Fancy Lipsey and Rayshawn Hart, allege “repeated sexual assaults perpetrated against multiple inmates” in the latest suit, which was filed by Woodland Hills attorney Joseph Virgilio.

The suit also alleges that Pallares “did not properly investigate prior claims of sexual harassment, physical and sexual assaults committed against inmates.”

Pallares was replaced as acting warden in January and moved to “associate warden responsibilities,” CDCR said at the time. The department added that investigators had not found any evidence of misconduct by him.

When word of the allegations against Rodriguez first surfaced, Pallares issued a statement denouncing the guard and asserting that “once my investigative team uncovered his wrongdoing, I referred it to the Madera County District Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution.

“We look forward to him being held accountable to the furthest extent of the law,” he said then.

Carroll, one of the inmates in the latest lawsuit, has previously told The Bee in interviews that she was subjected to sexual abuse by staffers and that after she spoke to an attorney investigating the scandal she was placed in administrative segregation in retaliation.

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