Feb 22, 2023
A deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has been charged with sexually assaulting two female inmates while working at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange, California, according to a press release from the District Attorney’s Office. The deputy is accused of directing the female inmates to engage in sexual activity.
Arcadio Rodriguez, 30, of Stanton, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the following counts:
If convicted on all counts, Rodriguez faces a maximum sentence of 18 months in the Orange County Jail.
“The deputy is accused of establishing an inappropriate relationship with two female inmates incarcerated at the Theo Lacy Facility, including sexually assaulting the inmates on multiple occasions,” the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said.
A KTLA report noted that the alleged multiple sexual assaults committed by Rodriguez date back to May 2022. Rodriguez would allegedly touch the women over their jail uniforms and show them pornographic videos of himself while they were in their cells.
Rodriguez was arrested after an investigation was launched through his own department, KTLA reported. The investigation uncovered communications related to inappropriate sexual behavior between a deputy and a female inmate.
He was booked into the Santa Ana Jail Friday on suspicion of felony sexual activity between a peace officer and inmate in a jail facility.
“The wellbeing of people incarcerated in our jails is an incredible responsibility that goes far beyond the simple minimum of physical safety,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said.
“Whether they are awaiting trial or are serving their sentence, inmates are completely dependent on Sheriff’s deputies and other jail staff for everything from food and medication to clothing. To have a sworn deputy sheriff betray his oath of office to serve and protect by preying on vulnerable incarcerated individuals for his own sexual gratification is appalling. These women were awaiting trial and had no way of escaping a predator who literally held the keys to their captivity and directed them to perform sexual acts at his every whim. This is an embarrassment to the badge and to all the hardworking law enforcement professionals who carry out their duties lawfully each and every day,” Spitzer added.
In a statement, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes indicated that he notified the county Office of Independent Review, a watchdog agency that oversees the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office, to ensure that the investigation into Rodriguez’s alleged sexual misconduct is objective and thorough, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“The suspected criminal actions of this deputy are inexcusable, especially for a person who swore to serve and protect our community,” Barnes said.
In Wednesday’s press release, Orange County officials noted that California law only allows prosecutors to charge a misdemeanor when a detention facility employee engages in sexual activity with a confined adult over the clothes rather than causing skin to skin contact.
“Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer is seeking a change to state law to allow prosecutors to charge the behavior as a felony or a misdemeanor,” the press release said.
The Associated Press (AP) reported that Rodriguez is due back in court on March 3. The AP left a message seeking comment with Rodriguez’s attorney, Robert Hickey.
Deputy District Attorney David McMurrin of Special Prosecutions is prosecuting the sexual assault case against Arcadio Rodriguez.
Cases of sexual abuse and assault in detention centers have made headlines recently, particularly in California prisons. As the AP reported, last week state officials confirmed that a former correctional officer at the biggest women’s prison in California had been accused of engaging in sexual misconduct against at least 22 inmates.
“The investigation into the allegations began last year after officials discovered the possible misconduct at the Central California Women’s Facility,” the AP said.
Said investigation into Gregory Rodriguez, a former officer at the detention center, began in July.
“Officials discovered possible sexual misconduct by Rodriguez against inmates at the Central California Women’s Facility, the department said. The prison is in Chowchilla, a small California city about 120 miles (190 kilometers) southeast of San Francisco,” the AP reported.
The corrections department indicated that Rodriguez retired after being approached about the ongoing sexual abuse investigation.
A recent investigation by the AP exposed rampant misconduct on the part of high-ranking prison officials, including sexual violence, sexual abuse, and whistleblower retaliation.
A preceding investigation by the AP uncovered widespread allegations of sexual abuse across the federal Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) 122 facilities and approximately 153,000 inmates. 422 complaints of staff-on-inmate sexual abuse were made in 2020, according to the AP. Additionally, the AP report indicated that a “rape club” culture existed at the federal women’s correctional institution in Dublin, California.
The AP investigation comes after the Department of Justice issued a memo highlighting systemic mishandling of prosecutions related to prison inmate sexual abuse cases.
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