Former Ore. prison nurse indicted on 25 charges of sexually assaulting inmates, perjury
If convicted, Tony Klein faces a maximum sentence of life in prison
By Catalina Gaitán
WILSONVILLE, Ore. — A former prison nurse has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexually assaulting a dozen female inmates while working at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, the state’s lone women’s prison.
The U.S. Department of Justice unsealed an indictment Monday charging 37-year-old Tony Daniel Klein of Clackamas County with 21 counts of depriving the women of their constitutional right to not be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by sexually assaulting them. Klein was also charged with four counts of perjury.
The indictment alleges that in 2016 and 2017, Klein sexually assaulted 12 inmates, some resulting in injuries. Four of the alleged assaults included aggravated sexual abuse, the indictment says.
Klein appeared in court via video and pleaded not guilty to all charges. He was granted pretrial release and a May 16 trial date was set.
If convicted, Klein faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon.
Klein’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Oregonian/OregonLive.
Klein is currently on leave from his job as a registered nurse for Legacy Health, the Oregon-based healthcare provider said Monday.
Jennifer Black, a Department of Corrections spokesperson, said 27 women have brought allegations against Klein since 2019.
In a statement Monday, Department of Corrections Director Colette S. Peters said the department has “zero tolerance” for sexual violence.
“Today’s indictment shows that the voices of women in custody are heard and taken seriously,” Peters said in the statement. “Allegations will not be swept under the rug or ignored.”
Federal court records show Klein was named as a defendant alongside other Department of Corrections employees in 13 lawsuits filed between January 2019 and May 2021. Two of those lawsuits were dismissed and the rest were settled, records show.
One of the plaintiffs, a former inmate, sued the Oregon Department of Corrections in January 2019, alleging Klein fondled her on two occasions at the prison two years earlier.
The lawsuit alleged Klein “systematically sexually harassed, assaulted and pursued female inmates” while working at the prison. According to the lawsuit, Klein was “largely unsupervised” and called inmates who did not need medical care from their housing units to the medical unit.
According to the lawsuit, Klein “rarely documented these impromptu visits,” during which he wore scrubs without underwear “allowing him to easily access his penis for sexual activity without undressing.”
A second former inmate sued the Oregon Department of Corrections in April 2019, alleging Klein had sex with her multiple times while she was held at the prison and that the department failed to protect her from Klein.
She alleged Klein abused her from 2011 through 2017 and told her that if she told anyone about what happened, she would be punished.
The Oregonian/OregonLive isn’t identifying the plaintiffs because they alleged they were sexual abuse victims.
Klein worked for the prison system from October 2010 through January 2018 when he resigned.
Klein’s nursing license remains active, according to the Oregon State Board of Nursing.
In June 2020, the nursing board reprimanded Klein and fined him $2,500 for failing to answer questions truthfully when he filed to renew his nursing license in 2018. According to board records, Klein answered “no” to questions about whether he had been investigated for any alleged violations of state or federal law or types of abuse or mistreatment.
Klein had been reported to the Oregon State Board of Nursing in September 2018 by his employer for alleged “boundary violations,” including alleged sexual misconduct, with patients who were incarcerated, according to the records.
The board opened an investigation into the allegations, all of which Klein denied. The results of the investigation were submitted to the Washington County District Attorney’s Office, which declined to prosecute due to insufficient evidence, board records show.
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