A former California federal corrections officer was sentenced Friday to five years and three months in prison for sexually abusing two inmates at a women’s prison, according to the Associated Press News.
John Russell Bellhouse, 40, was convicted in June by a federal jury on two counts of sexual abuse and three counts of abusive sexual contact with two women at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Dublin, California between 2019 and 2020.
Prosecuting U.S. Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey described the sentencing as a “clear” statement that “the sexual abuse by guards will not be tolerated,” the outlet reported. (RELATED: REPORT: Former Security Guard Arrested After Allegedly Violating 79-Year-Old’s Corpse In Hospital Morgue)
“This conduct was a disturbing deviation from the expectations and requirements of all federal correctional officers,” Ramsey stated Friday, according to AP News. “Bellhouse violated his oath and abused the power given to him, all to victimize the people he was supposed to protect.”
Today, former FCI Dublin Correctional Officer John Bellhouse was sentenced to 63 months in prison for the sexual abuse of two female inmates; Eighth case against FCI Dublin correctional officer for sexual abuse-related crimes. pic.twitter.com/2HVXVQkvrG
— FBI SanFrancisco (@FBISanFrancisco) December 1, 2023
Court documents from prosecutors alleged that in 2020 Bellhouse “began to express an interest in a particular female inmate,” calling her “his ‘girlfriend,'” AP News reported.
The interest then grew to inappropriately touching the woman and eventually having her perform oral sex on Bellhouse twice within the prison’s safety office, authorities stated. Prosecutors also noted that another inmate was reported to have been a lookout during one of the sexual encounters.
In addition, Bellhouse reportedly allowed another woman to use an office phone, going against the prison’s policy, and gave her earrings as well, according to authorities. (RELATED: Woman Claims Officer Raped Her While Incarcerated In Albany, Jail Organized Her Abortion)
The FCI Dublin prison has had a slew of issues with sexual abuse from correctional officers, according to presiding U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonalez Rogers, who stated that she had a remaining 40 civil suits alleging sexual abuse from officers, according to KTVU-TV.
Bellhouse’s conviction marks the eighth case against the facility’s officers. Ray Garcia, the prison’s former warden, was convicted and sentenced to six years in December for molesting inmates, forcing them to pose naked within their cells, according to AP News.
A new training program for wardens and specialized teams focused on decreasing sexual abuse within federal prisons was launched by the Bureau of Prisons following the rise of covered-up abuse at the facility.
Bellhouse reportedly did not make a statement during his court hearing, and there no apparent supporters or family in attendance, according to KTVU-TV.