A former nurse convicted of sexually assaulting inmates at an all-female prison has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Tony Klein, 39, was sentenced Tuesday after 17 former and current inmates at Oregon’s Coffee Creek Correctional alleged he sexually abused them while they sought care or worked for the prison’s medical unit between 2016 and 2017.
Thanks to a nurse at the facility, Klein was able to commit the acts “his access to the women,” prosecutors said — as well as “his position of power as a corrections officer” to engage in attacks such as digital penetration, oral sex or rape.
In July, a jury found Klein guilty of 17 counts of depriving his victims of their right not to be punished by sexual assault while in prison, as well as four counts of perjury for giving false testimony during a 2019 deposition .
Instead, the sentence handed down Tuesday includes five years of supervised release to be served beyond the 360-month bid, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon — after he was found guilty in federal court of the aforementioned charges.
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Tony Klein, 39, was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Tuesday after 17 former and current inmates at Oregon’s Coffee Creek Correctional alleged he sexually abused them in 2016 and 2017.
Victims like Michaella Lovewell, who made a six-year prison bid, gave testimony in 2019 about how she and others were targeted in medical rooms, janitor closets or behind privacy curtains by then-nurse
Prosecutors wrote in a press release: ‘Aided by his access to the women and his position of power as a corrections officer, Klein sexually assaulted or engaged in non-consensual sexual conduct among many female inmates in his care.”
“Because of his position as a medical provider, Klein was often alone with his victims,” they added, “and assaulted many before, during or after medical treatment.”
The announcement went on to talk about how Klein “made up reasons” to get inmates like Lisa Whipple and Michaella Lovewell alone in secluded areas such as medical rooms, janitor closets or behind privacy curtains to commit the acts.
“Klein made it clear to his victims that he had a position of power over them,” the statement continued, noting how the victims believed “they would not be believed” if they tried to report his abuse.
“Fearing punishment if they fought back or reported his behavior, most of Klein’s victims submitted to his unwanted advances or endured his attacks,” the report notes.
Kieran L. Ramsey, special agent in charge of the FBI Portland Field Office who helped build the case against Klein, added that the sentence, while significant, “does not undo the trauma (Klein) inflicted on countless victims can make.
“But we hope this brings them one step closer to healing,” he added.
Klein was initially sentenced to life in federal prison, but was spared such a sentence by U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon (pictured)
Initially, Klein — who worked at the prison from 2010 to January 2018 — faced a life sentence in federal prison, but was spared such a sentence by U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon.
Part of his role as a nurse at the all-female prison — the only one in the state — involved interacting with inmates seeking medical treatment, a responsibility that victims Whipple and Lowell said he abused.
“It wasn’t just Tony,” Whipple said after the verdict was handed down Tuesday, alleging that a more extensive, systemic series of offenses enabled Klein to commit the acts.
However, she added that Klein was “the ultimate predator and person in this situation,” after recounting in a 2019 statement how she was attacked by Klein during medical appointments at Coffee Creek.
During testimony, Whipple — who has since been released — said she did not report Klein because she feared it would lengthen her prison sentence.
The only all-female prison in the state, the 1,684-bed facility opened in 2001 and has since been plagued by several staff abuse scandals
Then Klein, a nurse at the facility, was able to commit the acts thanks to “his access to the women,” prosecutors said in a news release — and “his position of power as a corrections officer.” Shown here is a file photo of inmates in the all-female prison
Part of his role as a nurse at the all-female prison involved interacting with inmates seeking medical treatment.
She added Wednesday, “But the Department of Corrections, there are a lot of things they could have done … to make sure this type of victimization doesn’t happen within these walls.”
Meanwhile, Michaella Lovewell, who served six years in prison, said during her statement about Klein, “He was just telling me personal things about his life.”
She was a prison infirmary nurse who entered the prison in 2014. She said she was pregnant at the time and first met Klein at prenatal appointments.
She recalled how Klein treated her kindly at a low point in her life.
“I thought it was like we had a friendship, that someone cared, someone was kind,” Lovewell said during her statement.
‘The way you are treated here is as if you are nothing. You’re just a number and they make sure you know it. And so I trusted him, and in that I was wrong. I shouldn’t have done that.’
After she gave birth, Lovewell put her daughter up for adoption and returned to Coffee Creek, where she took the job in the infirmary to support other pregnant women in custody.
It was there that Whipple also accused Klein of inappropriately touching her during her sentence, prosecutors said.
In their lawsuits, Lovewell, Whipple and fifteen other women alleged that Klein’s friendly behavior toward some women in Coffee Creek was “intended to inspire trust.” The inmates’ histories, prosecutors said, “were easily accessible to Klein through the ODOC registration database.” He was also charged with lying during his 2019 testimony (pictured)
In their lawsuits, Lovewell, Whipple and fifteen other women alleged that Klein’s friendly and flirtatious behavior toward some women in Coffee Creek was “intended to instill trust.”
They alleged that he specifically sought women who were vulnerable because they had experienced trauma, and that “all of the women selected by Klein fit a crude profile of an extensive history of sexual abuse.”
Those histories, prosecutors said, “were easily accessible to Klein through the ODOC administrative database.”
The Oregon Department of Corrections has denied an interview request from Oregon Public Broadcasting.