FCI Dublin Correctional Officer Faces Sexual Abuse Charges Against Two Additional Incarcerated Victims

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FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Justice Building is pictured

OAKLAND–A grand jury handed down a superseding indictment today charging former FCI Dublin correctional officer John Russell Bellhouse with sexual abuse charges against two additional female inmates.  

“The additional charges unsealed today demonstrate the priority the Department of Justice has placed on prosecuting cases of sexual misconduct by Bureau of Prison employees,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “We have no tolerance for correction officers who betray the trust placed in them to safely and humanely care for those in their custody.”

“Individuals incarcerated in federal prison should never experience sexual abuse, and particularly not at the hands of correctional officers charged with maintaining safety and order within the institution’s walls,” said United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds.  “The security of inmates is a vital priority within our prison system.  This office will continue to pursue allegations of correctional officers abusing inmates and will seek accountability for those who engage in such conduct.”

“The safety, security, and integrity of federal prisons are of the utmost importance, and the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General will continue to aggressively pursue allegations of abuse at FCI Dublin and across the BOP,” said Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz.

“The defendant had a fundamental responsibility to care for the welfare of inmates in his custody and maintain the good order of FCI Dublin,” said FBI San Francisco Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp. “The additional charges allege the defendant did neither, but instead abused his powers and took advantage of the women for whose care he was responsible. Investigation of violations of the public trust, regardless of the status of the victims, will remain among the highest priorities of the FBI.”

The grand jury originally charged Bellhouse, 39, formerly of Pleasanton, California, on February 17, 2022, in an indictment that alleged Bellhouse committed sexual abuse against a female prison ward identified only as “Victim 1.”  Bellhouse was employed as a correctional officer at the Federal Correctional Institute Dublin (FCI Dublin), an all-female correctional institution in Alameda County that houses federal prisoners and is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).  Victim 1 was an inmate at FCI Dublin and under the custodial authority of Bellhouse.  The sexual abuse is alleged to have occurred between February and October 2020.   

Today the grand jury handed down additional charges against Bellhouse in a superseding indictment.  The superseding indictment expanded the charges against Bellhouse to a total of three sexual assault charges involving Victim 1.  Two charges allege Bellhouse sexually abused Victim 1 and a third alleges Bellhouse engaged in abusive sexual contact with Victim 1.  All three incidents occurred before October 2020, with two occurring as early as February 2020 and the third as early as December 2019.  All three incidents are alleged to have occurred within FCI Dublin Prison Safety facilities. 

The superseding indictment further added three additional charges that Bellhouse sexually abused two other female victims identified as “Victim 2” and “Victim 3.”  Both Victims 2 and 3 are described as inmates serving their prison sentences at FCI Dublin at the time of the sexual abuse and were also under the custodial supervision of Bellhouse. The superseding indictment charges two counts of abusive sexual contact by Bellhouse against Victim 2.  One of these contacts is alleged to have occurred between October and December 2020 and the other on October 22, 2020.  The superseding indictment also charges one count of sexual abusive contact by Bellhouse against Victim 3 between May and December 2020.  All of the charged acts involving Victim 2 and Victim 3 are alleged to have occurred in the FCI Dublin Camp Safety Office.   

Bellhouse is next scheduled for a court appearance on October 13, 2022, in U.S. District Court in Oakland before United States District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.  A jury trial is currently set for June 5, 2023, in United States District Court in Oakland.      

Bellhouse is charged in the superseding indictment with two counts of sexual abuse of a ward in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2243(b).  For each charge, Bellhouse faces a maximum statutory sentence of 15 years imprisonment, a minimum five year term of supervision following release from prison, and a $250,000 fine.  He is also charged with four counts of sexually abusive contact in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2244(a)(4).  If convicted of the charge, Bellhouse faces a maximum statutory sentence of 2 years imprisonment, a minimum five term of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.  However, any sentence following a conviction would be imposed by a court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

The charges contained in the superseding indictment are allegations.  As in any criminal case, the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.  

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Molly K. Priedeman and Andrew Paulson are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Leeya Kekona.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.