Ex-Oregon prison nurse convicted of sexually assaulting female inmates gets 30 years in prison

Ex-Oregon prison nurse convicted of sexually assaulting female inmates gets 30 years in prison

Whitney Woodworth

SALEM, Ore. — A former Oregon Department of Corrections nurse was sentenced Tuesday to 30 years in federal prison for sexually assaulting nine female inmates while working at a correctional facility.

Tony Daniel Klein, 39, was convicted in July of 17 counts of depriving the women of their constitutional right to not face cruel and unusual punishment by sexual assault and four counts of perjury. Klein worked at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, Oregon’s only women’s prison, located in Wilsonville, Oregon, from 2010 until 2018.

“Today’s sentence sends a clear message that using a position of authority to prey on individuals in custody will never be tolerated by the Department of Justice,” Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, said in a statement. “Holding Tony Klein accountable for his crimes would not have been possible without the courage and resolve of the women he abused and the dedication of our partners at the FBI and Civil Rights Division.”

The survivors said they endured multiple assaults while in prison and faced disbelief from prison officials when they reported the abuse. After being released from prison, the survivors continued to struggle with trauma.

The Statesman Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, reported in 2019 that sexual abuse and rape were not only “widespread” at Coffee Creek, but the violence was ignored by prison staff and those who reported it were punished.

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Klein resigned from his position on Jan. 31, 2018, and previously declined to comment on the allegations against him.

‘Rape is not part of the penalty’: Prison, jail staff rarely face legal consequences after sex abuse of inmates, report finds

2017 investigation by Oregon State Police resulted in no charges

Before Klein faced criminal charges, he and the Oregon Department of Corrections were defendants in a multi-million dollar civil lawsuit filed on behalf of sexual assault survivors. The state paid a combined $1.87 million to settle those civil lawsuits.

A 2017 investigation by Oregon State Police did not result in charges from the Washington County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors issued a decision in August 2018 to not file criminal charges against Klein, saying the allegations against him were unsupportable.

More survivors came forward. In March 2022, criminal charges against Klein were issued from the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Oregon.

Prosecutor: Sentence sends ‘significant message’

Prosecutors said as a nurse, Klein interacted with female inmates who either sought medical treatment or worked as orderlies in the prison’s medical unit. He used his position of power as a corrections employee, prosecutors said, sexually assaulting and engaging in nonconsensual sexual conduct with many female inmates entrusted to his care.

“The sentence in this case should send a significant message to any official working inside jails and prisons across our country, including those who provide medical care, that they will be held accountable when they sexually assault women inmates in their custody,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement.

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Klein’s sentence also includes five years of supervised release after prison, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office — District of Oregon. He had faced a possible life sentence.

Clarke promised that the department would listen to and investigate credible allegations of sexual assault.

“Women detained inside jails and prisons should be able to turn to medical providers for care and not subjected to exploitation by those bent on abusing their power and position,” Clarke said. “The Justice Department stands ready to hold accountable those who abuse their authority by sexual assaulting people in their custody and under their care.”

‘A living hell’: Former federal inmates describe years of sexual abuse by prison officers

Contributing: The Associated Press

Contact Whitney Woodworth at [email protected] or on X at @wmwoodworth

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