PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A former nurse convicted of sexually abusing women in custody at an Oregon prison has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.
Tony Klein’s sentence handed down Tuesday 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.
A federal jury in July convicted Klein on 17 counts related to sexual assault and four counts of lying under oath involving nine women. Jurors found he deprived the women of their constitutional right to not face cruel and unusual punishment while they served time at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility south of Portland in Wilsonville.
He worked as a nurse at the facility from 2010 until 2018, interacting with women in custody who either sought medical treatment or worked in the prison’s medical unit. Prosecutors said Klein sexually assaulted many women entrusted to his care, making it clear to them that he was in a position of power and that their reports about it wouldn’t be believed.
Klein resigned as Oregon State Police was investigating the assault allegations.
Klein, 39, denies sexually assaulting anyone and his lawyers have said Klein plans to appeal the sentence. He didn’t testify at trial.
His attorneys, Amanda Alvarez Thibeault and Matthew McHenry, suggested during the trial that Klein was the victim of a plot by women in custody to get financial settlements from the state.
The jury reached a unanimous verdict “after careful consideration,” jury foreman Patrick O’Halloran said in July.
Prosecutors said Klein abused his position and abused women, violating the public’s trust, while doing everything he could to avoid getting caught.
“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,” Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, said in a statement.
Numerous women since 2019 have sued the state Department of Corrections and Klein alleging sexual abuse. The state has settled at least 11 of them and paid out a total of $1.87 million while admitting no wrongdoing.
Here is the full announcement from the Department of Justice:
PORTLAND, Ore.—A former Oregon Department of Corrections employee was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison today for sexually assaulting nine female inmates while serving as a nurse at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, Oregon’s only women’s prison.
Tony Daniel Klein, 39, of Clackamas County, Oregon, was sentenced to 360 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.
“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. 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,” said Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
“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,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “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. We will listen to and investigate credible allegations put forward by people who are sexually assaulted and, where appropriate, bring federal prosecutions. The Justice Department stands ready to hold accountable those who abuse their authority by sexual assaulting people in their custody and under their care.”
“We know this prison sentence cannot undo the trauma Tony Klein inflicted on numerous victims, but we hope this brings them one step closer to healing,” said Kieran L. Ramsey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Portland Field Office. “As a state prison nurse, Klein abused his position and abused multiple women, violating the public’s trust, while doing everything he could to avoid being caught. The investigators and prosecutors should be applauded for their efforts to hold Klein accountable, but we recognize this lengthy sentence is also because of a group of brave women who came forward and helped ensure that Klein was held accountable for being a sexual predator within Coffee Creek Correctional Facility.”
According to court documents, from 2010 until January 2018, Klein served as a nurse at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, Oregon. In his position, Klein interacted with female inmates who either sought medical treatment or worked as orderlies in the prison’s medical unit. Aided by his access to the women and his position of power as a corrections employee, Klein sexually assaulted and engaged in nonconsensual sexual conduct with many female inmates entrusted to his care.
By virtue of his position as a medical provider, Klein was often alone with his victims and assaulted many before, during, or after medical treatment. For women who worked in the medical unit, Klein manufactured reasons to get them alone in secluded areas such as medical rooms, janitor’s closets, or behind privacy curtains. Klein made it clear to his victims that he was in a position of power over them, and they would not be believed if they tried reporting his abuse. Fearing punishment if they fought back against or reported his conduct, most of Klein’s victims submitted to his unwanted advances or endured his assaults.
On March 8, 2022, a federal grand jury in Portland returned an indictment charging Klein with multiple civil rights crimes. On July 25, 2023, a federal jury in Portland found Klein guilty of 17 counts of depriving his victims of their constitutional right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by sexual assault and four counts of perjury.
This case was investigated by the FBI Portland Field Office. It was prosecuted by Gavin W. Bruce, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, and Cameron A. Bell, Trial Attorney for the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section. Assistant U.S. Attorney Hannah Horsley assisted the trial team.
Central Oregon Daily News contributed to this report.