California jail guard indicted for sex assaults on inmates

A California correctional officer was indicted Thursday on multiple counts of sexually assaulting female inmates at the San Joaquin County Jail, just months after another officer at the same facility was convicted of rape and other sexual assaults on inmates.

Alex Tafoya was arraigned on charges that include oral copulation by force, sexual penetration by force, false imprisonment by violence, fraud or deceit and assault by a police officer, the San Joaquin district attorney said.

"We must protect women from sexual violence irrespective of their circumstance," District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said in a statement that did not give details of the allegations. "When law enforcement officers violate their oath and authority and abuse members of the community, they will be held accountable."

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It wasn’t immediately clear whether Tafoya had an attorney to speak on his behalf. The jail is located in unincorporated French Camp near Stockton.

Tafoya’s indictment by a federal grand jury comes after another officer at the San Joaquin County Jail, Zachary Simmons, was convicted in October of sexually assaulting multiple female inmates.

Simmons, 34, was sentenced to eight years in prison after a jury found him guilty of having raped an inmate in 2015 and committing other sex crimes with two inmates in 2015 and 2018 while he worked at the San Joaquin County Jail.

Simmons was convicted on charges including felony sexual penetration with force or fear, sexual activity with a confined adult in a detention center, and misdemeanor communicating with a prisoner without consent, the district attorney’s Office said.

Simmons had been with the sheriff’s office since 2008. He was placed on administrative leave in late August after officials began investigating allegations against him.