A former prison officer at the Federal Women’s Only Correctional Facility in Dublin has been charged with sexually abusing two inmates in custody, the US Department of Justice said last week.
Ross Klinger, 36, of Riverside has been charged with one count of sexual abuse of a ward, in violation of USC Section 2243 (b), according to a complaint filed by acting US attorney Stephanie Hinds in U.S. District Court on June 25.
Justice Department officials said in a statement that Klinger “knowingly had sex with at least one inmate … under his custody, supervision or disciplinary authority” and also had sex with another inmate.
The complaint alleges that Klinger had repeated sex with one of the victims in an FCI Dublin bonded warehouse between April and October 2020.
After being transferred to another facility in the San Diego Bureau of Prisons, Hinds alleged that Klinger kept in touch with the victim via email and video chat, and used the pseudonym “Juan Garcia”. Klinger also visited the victim’s family and gave money to his mother, as well as the other victim and his family, according to prosecutors.
“As a correctional officer, Klinger had disciplinary power over inmates held at FCI Dublin,” officials said. “He was trained that inappropriate relationships with inmates, including sexual or financial relationships, were prohibited.”
Officials say Klinger also had sex with a second inmate in a storage container at FCI Dublin while another inmate was on the lookout. The victim was released to a halfway house, but Hinds alleged that Klinger kept in touch via text and social media, and even visited the victim at the halfway house, where they had sex and Klinger proposed with a diamond ring.
Hinds also alleged that Klinger “told the two inmates that he wanted to father their children and planned to marry them”, and gave the two victims, and sometimes their families, “money, gifts. or both”.
DOJ and FBI officials strongly condemned the allegations Wednesday as “a worrying deviation from the responsibilities of correctional officers”, and said “such abuse of power will not be tolerated.”
“Prison officials have great power over incarcerated people and are responsible for using that power to ensure the care, safety and control of those under government supervision,” said Hinds. “The abuse of these powers resonates throughout the criminal justice system and threatens to undermine public confidence in the legitimacy of the system.”
FBI Special Agent Craig Fair said Klinger “took advantage of his role as an officer supervising detainees on behalf of the government, and instead displayed blatant abuse of power.”
“The FBI will continue to work with our partners to investigate such violations of the law and hold those responsible to account,” Fair said.
After being arrested, Klinger first appeared in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on June 30. Klinger has yet to be scheduled for his first court appearance in the Northern District of California. It was not immediately clear whether he was represented by a lawyer.
If convicted, Klinger faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, three years on probation and a fine of $ 250,000.