Former women prisoners in Chowchilla that have come forward about surviving sexual assault by a former guard have reached a settlement of $3.7 million, says their attorney.
Robert Chalfant, the attorney who represented the women, said that the agreements had happened after talks had occurred for a couple of days in federal court up in Sacrament that covered the allegations towards Greg Rodriguez, whom faces 96 charges of rape, sodomy, sexual assault, and other offenses, assaulting prisoners at the Central California Women's Facility.
“I'm emotionally exhausted right now,” Chalfant said last week. “Being involved in that kind of case is draining.”
“I'm proud of my clients for coming forward. It's terrifying to come forward and make these kinds of allegations against a guard.”
Rodriguez was arrested in May 2023 and is currently jailed without bail in Madera County, facing trial later next month in Superior Court.
According to the Sacramento Bee, “District Attorney Sally Moreno has said the charges involve 13 victims and allege 39 individual sexual assaults, some charged in more than one way, that could result in Rodriguez facing up to 300 years in prison.”
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation are not making comment on the ongoing litigation.
CDCR hired Rodriguez back in 1995 as a cadet and later was placed in Chowchilla 13 years ago. Retirement became a proactive choice last August when the investigation started about the allegations. The common scenario within being accused was sexually assaulting prisoners into the parole board hearing room where cameras were not allowed.
According to Chalfant, Rodriguez was reported often and warned about to other COs, but no action was taken, giving no protection to those incarcerated at CCWF.
“If CDCR wanted to end sexual assault of female inmates at CCWF there's a lot of things you could do, including body-worn cameras, putting cameras in all the places where guard have access to inmates and hiring more female guards.
“All this could have been avoided if people did their jobs and looked out for women.”
These weren't just a few complaints towards a dangerous situation. Dozens of lawsuits were sent towards the state capitol's Superior Court for sexual assault occurring at CCWF.
According to the Sacramento Bee, “The suits are the result of a new state law that allows victims of sexual assault by prison guards or law enforcement officers to sue within 10 years of an assailant leaving their agency or being convicted of a crime.”
This law as a measure was introduced by Assem. Buffy Wicks of Oakland, and later signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in Oct. 2021.