The women’s-only Texas prison that disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes will call home for the next decade used male guards to conduct “shower checks” and has faced a half-dozen sexual misconduct allegations in the past year, according to a former inmate at the federal minimum-security lockup and official records.
Lynn Espejo, who spent nearly two years at Bryan Federal Prison Camp from 2018 until early 2020, made the shocking allegation to The Post that male guards checked in on inmates in the showers — and claimed some of them were “having sex with women” inmates.
“You’re in the shower and the guard [could] come in there to see what you’re up to,” Espejo told The Post.
Holmes arrived at the Texas prison Tuesday to serve more than 11 years after being convicted on four counts of wire fraud. The 39-year-old former Silicon Valley darling has two young children with boyfriend Billy Evans.
Espejo – who documented her incarceration at Bryan on a blog with posts she would surreptitiously send to a friend – alleged that male guards were deployed to walk in on women in the shower as part of a prison strategy to crack down on consensual sexual encounters among the inmates.
Espejo also claimed to The Post that the prison failed to adhere to federal guidelines that require sufficient numbers of female guards be staffed so that they can perform strip searches.
Federal regulations and Bureau of Prison policies mandate that strip searches be conducted by a staff member who is the same gender as the inmate being searched, according to a Justice Department memo.
In a blog post dated Feb. 23, 2020, Espejo wrote: “Many of us are extremely upset regarding FPC Bryan’s decision to have male staff do shower checks on female inmates.”
Another former Bryan inmate who spoke to The Post on condition of anonymity backed up Espejo’s claims about “shower checks” and sexual encounters between guards and prisoners .
Espejo said Holmes shouldn’t have to worry about being ogled by the male guards while washing up because the shower checks were “short-lived.”.
“They started allowing males to do it and I wrote them up for policy violations because I saw women terrified,” Espejo claimed to The Post, adding she was transferred to another federal prison after Bryan officials caught wind of her blog.
In another blog entry, the 59-year-old Arkansas resident wrote: “Many of the women being housed here have been raped, sexually abused or had other traumas.”
“Just hearing a male voice in the bathroom where they are naked and vulnerable triggers these past traumas and places them in a state of high anxiety and fear.”
A BOP spokesperson told The Post that the agency is declining to “comment on anecdotal allegations.”
“The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and FPC Bryan take seriously our duty to protect the individuals entrusted in our custody and maintain the safety of correctional staff and the community, as this remains one of the highest priorities for the BOP,” the agency said.
Espejo alleged that inmates at Bryan are sometimes “manipulated into having sex” with prison guards.
“It is a problem and it does happen at Bryan,” she told The Post.
“Women decided to go that route for extra food or for something from the outside, whatever the guard was bringing them.”.
According to documents posted by BOP, there were six sexual abuse investigations between 2022 and 2023 at the prison — five of those involved alleged inmate-on-inmate incidents while one was a staff-on-inmate allegation.
Prison officials found that five of those allegations, including the staff-on-inmate incident, were unfounded while one was unsubstantiated.
Larry Levine, a former convict who served time in prison and who now owns a consultancy firm which advises soon-to-be-inmates before their incarceration, told The Post that Holmes would be a likely target for others in the prison eager for some company.
“She’s a good looking woman and the female bisexual lesbians will find her very attractive, no joke,” Levine told The Post.
Levine, who claims to be in contact with current and former Bryan inmates, said that some prison guards at Bryan are known to have a wandering eye.
“They leer at the women, they flirt with them, they try to give them special privileges [in exchange for sex],” he said.
Espejo – who was released in 2020 during the pandemic and had her sentence commuted the following year – told The Post that Holmes most likely will not need to worry about male guards approaching her for sex.
“She would have to want to be involved,” Espejo said.
Holmes is also not likely going to be forced to do anything by her fellow inmates, either, the ex-con said.
“She is very pretty,” Espejo, who maintains contacts with current inmates at Bryan, told The Post.
“It’s possible that someone would make a pass at her.”
“But if she says ‘No, that’s not my thing,’ they’re going to leave her alone,” Espejo said.
“They’re not going to try to force that on her.”
“The women are nice and if you go in there and you treat others respectfully and you act humble and nice, she’s going to make friends in there and the women are going to be nice to her,” according to Espejo.
“She’s not going to be beat up. She’s not going to be threatened or anything like that.”
Holmes’ incarceration is a stunning fall from grace for the once-heralded entrepreneur.
BOP documents indicate that prison officials frequently investigate allegations of sexual abuse and harassment in minimum-security facilities housing women.
The most recent reports documenting alleged violations of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) found that four investigations were launched at FPC Alderson in West Virginia between 2020 and 2021.
Two of the allegations were found to have been unsubstantiated while two were left “open for review,” according to documents.
Four alleged incidents of inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse and one allegation of inmate-on-inmate sexual harassment were reported at FCI Aliceville between 2020 and 2021.
Three of the inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse allegations were unsubstantiated while one was unfounded.
The sexual harassment allegation was unsubstantiated.
Source by [New York Post]