An officer working at the Federal Correctional Complex in Victorville is accused of sexually abusing two female inmates who he ordered to engage in sexual acts with him and attempting to abuse a third, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Apolonio Gamez, 40, was arrested Thursday after a criminal complaint was filed Wednesday alleging he sexually abused a ward, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a news release.
The alleged misconduct stretches back to September 2016, when prosecutors say Gamez had sexual relations with one inmate on two separate occasions while on duty as a correctional officer.
Then, in May 2017, he is accused of ordering a second female inmate who he caught trying to take food from a storage facility to engage in sexual activity with him.
In that incident, he allegedly threatened to send the inmate to the “hole” before directing her to engage in the activity. The victim did not resist because “she felt frozen and powerless with fear,” according to an affidavit filed in support of the complaint.
The 40-year-old is also accused of exposing himself to a third inmate who he had tried to have sexual relations with last summer.
Gamez has been employed at several California prisons since August 2012 and had worked at the Victorville facility since July 2016, according to prosecutors. All were run by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
The Federal Correctional Complex in Victorville is comprised of three facilities. Prosecutors didn’t specify which Gamez had been assigned to, but only one — known as Victorville Medium II — houses both male and female inmates. It is a medium-security campus with an adjacent minimum-security area the currently houses a total of 1,381 inmates, according to its website.
Gamez was taken into custody around 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Lake Elsinore — where prosecutors say he lives — by U.S. Marshals and was being held at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s central jail, according to inmate records.
He was expected to make his first appearance in court on Friday. If convicted as charged, he could face up to 15 years in federal prison.
The FBI and U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General are continuing to investigate the case. No further details were immediately available.