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Press Release

Former Private Prisoner Transport Officer Sentenced for Federal Civil Rights Offenses for Sexually Assaulting Multiple Female Pretrial Detainees

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A former private prisoner transport officer, Marquet Johnson, 45, was sentenced to 30 years in prison and five years of supervised release and required to register as a sex offender under the Federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act for violating the civil rights of multiple female pretrial detainees by sexually assaulting them during prisoner transports.

“This sentence shines a light on the private prisoner transport industry that countless law enforcement agencies across this country rely on to transport people who are arrested on warrants outside their jurisdiction,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “These private companies often operate in the shadows of our criminal justice system where some officers have seized the opportunity to physically and sexually abuse vulnerable victims in their custody. This sentence highlights the abuses of this industry, the bravery of the victims who came forward to report that abuse and our commitment to seeing justice done for these victims.”

“Criminal defendants have a right to be treated with dignity,” said U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez for the District of New Mexico. “As law enforcement officers, we are charged not only with protecting the public from harm but also with protecting the rights of suspects. If you abuse your position of authority to sexually assault those entrusted to your care, your badge will not shield you from justice.”

“Law enforcement officers and other officials receive certain powers from the government so they can defend the rights of the people and prevent wrongdoing,” said Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office. “When individuals working in an official capacity violate the trust of their communities by abusing that power, they undermine the hard work of all officials. The despicable actions perpetuated by Johnson, against those he was entrusted to protect, have no place in society. When you break the trust you’re given as a member of law enforcement and ultimately break the law, there are consequences. Today’s sentence is a resounding reminder that the FBI is committed to restoring trust in law enforcement by holding those who abuse their privileges and abandon their responsibilities accountable. We encourage survivors to find the courage to come forward and report these crimes to the FBI. I commend the hard work of our agents, our law enforcement partners with the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office and the U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico with helping to bring justice to the victims in this case and holding Johnson to account for his crimes.”

According to court documents, at the time of the offense, Johnson worked as a prisoner transport officer for Inmate Services Corporation (ISC). As a prisoner transport officer, Johnson performed the government function of picking up individuals who were arrested on out-of-state warrants and transporting those individuals back to the jurisdictions that issued the warrants. On Nov. 4, 2019, Johnson and his transport partner picked up the victim, a female pretrial detainee, from a jail in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to transport her to Delta County, Colorado.

That same day, while still in New Mexico, Johnson’s transport partner stopped the transport van at a rest stop. As soon as Johnson’s transport partner walked away from the van, Johnson ordered the victim to move to the bench row in the back of the transport van, climbed into the back of the van, removed the victim’s ankle restraints and loosened her handcuffs. The victim told Johnson that she was unsure what was going on but said that she did not want “to do this.” In response, Johnson pulled out a firearm, and, resting the weapon on his lap, told the victim that he wanted her to cooperate with him, “otherwise, it was going to get ugly.”

Johnson then ordered the victim to partially remove her clothing and lay down on her back. The victim did so but again told Johnson she did not want to do this. In response, Johnson held the firearm against the victim’s cheek while raping her. Johnson admitted that the victim did not consent to any of the sexual conduct and that his conduct included the use of a dangerous weapon and aggravated sexual abuse.

Johnson also admitted that this was not the first or last female pretrial detainee who he sexually assaulted during an ISC prisoner transport. Johnson admitted that in July 2019, he transported another female pretrial detainee from Spencer, Indiana, to San Marcos, Texas. While en route to Texas, during a stop at ISC headquarters in West Memphis, Arkansas, Johnson forced the detainee to perform oral sex on him. Johnson admitted that this victim also did not consent to any of the sexual conduct and that his misconduct included aggravated sexual abuse.

Further, Johnson admitted that, in August 2019, he transported yet another female pretrial detainee from Baker County, Oregon, to Warrensburg, Missouri. While in Missouri, Johnson stopped the transport van at a hotel, where he proceeded to rape the victim. A short time later Johnson brought the female detainee back outside to the transport van and, after resuming the transport, forced the female detainee to perform oral sex on him. Johnson admitted that this victim also did not consent to any of the sexual conduct and that his misconduct included aggravated sexual abuse and kidnapping.

The FBI Albuquerque Field Office investigated the case, with assistance from the Bernalillo County, New Mexico, Sherriff’s Office.

Trial Attorney Laura Gilson of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Brawley for the District of New Mexico prosecuted the case, with assistance from the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Eastern District of Arkansas and Western District of Missouri.

Updated April 16, 2024

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 24-455