On October 5, 2018, a Monterey County Sheriff Deputy was arrested for improper sexual conduct with a female inmate. Specifically, the officer was arrested for assault by a public officer (California Penal Code 149 P.C.) and sexual contact by a public officer with an inmate detained in a detention facility (California Penal Code 289.6(A)(2)). It is a crime for a peace officer to engage in sexual activity with an inmate confined in a detention facility.
The incident occurred at the Monterey County Jail. The Monterey County Jail is controlled and staffed by the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office. The Monterey County Jail has been the subject of controversy in the past few years with respect to substandard operations and deplorable inmate conditions. In 2015, a settlement was reached in a federal class action lawsuit brought by inmates against the Jail. According to the website for the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office: “under the Settlement Agreement, the jail must develop and implement plans to reform certain policies, procedures and practices by which it provides security, medical care, mental health care, and disability accommodations to prisoners in the jail.”
The Deputy accused of the sexual misconduct is 32 year old Marlon Alvarenga. According to reports, an inmate entered a supply closet where she witnessed Alvarenga and a female inmate engaged in sexual activity. According to the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, Alvarenga admitted what happened when questioned. Alvarenga is a four year veteran of the department and his bail was set at $100,000 according to jail records.
Click the following link to see an actual copy of the jail intake booking sheet. Alvarenga Booking Sheet
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for correctional officers and prison guards to abuse their authority and coerce inmates into sexual acts. In 2017, an officer in Santa Cruz County, was accused of having sexual contact with an inmate. As a result of that, a Serious Incident Review Board was convened to examine sexual abuse prevention in Santa Cruz County Jail. The Board came up with ten recommendations—from implementing body cameras to new policies to track officer movement and prevent one on one situations with inmates.
These sexual encounters are almost never consensual due to the gross difference in power and position. Essentially, inmates are powerless to say no to officers with so much power and authority. Federal law, applicable to California, holds that “when a prisoner alleges sexual abuse by a prison guard…the prisoner is entitled to a presumption that the conduct was not consensual.” Wood v. Beauclair, 692.F.3d 1041, 1049 (9th Cir. 2012)(July 9, 2012 Opinion in 9th Circuit Matter No. 10-35300 at ¶ 6).
Although incarcerated, inmates still have civil and human rights that may not be violated. Inmates who are victims of this sexual misconduct and abuse of authority clearly have suffered a civil rights violation. The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution holds that prisoners have the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. This includes the right to be free from: sexual abuse, sexual harassment, coerced sexual activity, unwanted sexual advances, rape, lewd acts and sexual touching perpetrated by detention center staff. If these rights are violated, these inmates may pursue the individuals responsible, and the facilities who allowed such abuse to happen, by asserting civil rights claims.
If you or a loved one were the victim of law enforcement misconduct, contact the Piccuta Law Group today. One of our attorneys will determine if you have a claim for the violation of your civil rights. Our Monterey civil rights attorneys have successfully handled civil rights cases across the state and achieved remarkable results both by settlement and verdict.
About the author: The content on this page was authored and prepared by attorney Charles Tony Piccuta. He graduated with honors from Indiana University-Maurer School of Law in Bloomington in 2006 (Ranked Top 35 US News & World Report 2018). Piccuta took and passed the State bars of Arizona, California, Illinois and Nevada (all on the first try). He is a trial attorney that regularly handles civil rights lawsuits and serious personal injury cases. He has obtained six and seven verdicts in both state and federal court.
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