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FBI: Driver may have sexually abused many female inmates

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An FBI agent has testified that he thinks a California man may have sexually assaulted 100 or more female inmates while transporting them between lockups around the country over the past 15 years.

Eric Scott Kindley faces federal charges in Arkansas alleging that he sexually assaulted a woman along a deserted road in January 2017 while transporting her from a jail in Alabama to Arizona, where there was a warrant for her arrest. Kindley faced similar charges in Arizona involving other female inmates he transported, but a judge dismissed those charges last week at the request of prosecutors, leaving just the Arkansas case.

During a hearing Tuesday, Special Agent Kyle Roberts testified that he has found evidence of attacks on at least 13 other women who were transported alone in Kindley's Dodge Grand Caravan. He said he believes "there could be 100, maybe more" victims spanning Kindley's 15 years transporting inmates across the country, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported .

Kindley has pleaded not guilty to charges of deprivation of rights and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. His federal public defender, Christophe Tarver, didn't immediately reply to a phone message left after working hours by The Associated Press.

Kindley was initially arrested in Stockton, California, last June, a day after he signed up as an Uber driver. Roberts testified that agents were monitoring his smartphone, which showed he had conducted searches about Uber drivers having sex with passengers.

During Tuesday's hearing, Roberts testified that Kindley pulled over along a dark road outside Russellville, Arkansas, to let the 27-year-old inmate he was transporting urinate outside. He said that after unshackling one of her hands, Kindley threw the woman against the van and reached down her underwear, scratching hard enough to tear the fabric. Kindley demanded that the woman perform a sex act on him but her screams alerted nearby animals that started to howl. Spooked, Kindley ordered her back into the van, showed her his gun and told her, "It only takes one bullet to the head," according to Roberts.

He said Kindley later made an overnight stop at a jail in Oklahoma, but that the woman didn't report him to jailers because Kindley had warned her he was a U.S. Marshal with law enforcement relationships.

After arriving at the Arizona jail, the woman was housed with another woman who had been transported by Kindley from California several days earlier. The other inmate said Kindley had raped her in a remote desert area but that she didn't report it out of fear. The FBI was later alerted of the attack after another female inmate informed a jail employee.

U.S. Department of Justice documents show two of Kindley's former employees, Albert Long and William Cassidy, have been separately convicted of federal crimes related to sexually assaulting female inmates while working for his prison-transport business.

Roberts said both men described in interviews with the FBI that "it was understood among the transport officers that they could do as they wanted to the females during transport, so long as the authorities do not find out."

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