A former Georgia prison guard pleaded guilty in federal court to sexually assaulting 3 female inmates and then forced them to help cover up the assaults.

Edgar Daniel Johnson, 51, admitted that between Nov. 1, 2012, and Sept. 30, 2013, he had non-consensual sex multiple times with three female inmates at Emanuel Women’s Facility in Swainsboro, where he worked as a guard, federal prosecutors said in a news release Wednesday.

He pleaded guilty to 3 counts of willfully depriving the inmates of their Eighth Amendment rights under color of law, 3 counts of obstruction for coercing the inmates into covering up the assaults; and 1 count of maliciously conveying false information about explosive materials after admitting to calling Southside Fire Department in Chatham County to report a false bomb threat on Elba Island near the Port of Savannah last May.

Georgia Department of Corrections investigated after receiving complaints from inmates who described specific scenarios with similarities and details no one else would know, investigator Clay Nix told The Associated Press in 2015. He said at the time that his office had identified more than a dozen women who said Johnson had victimized them.

Johnson was fired in April 2015 and was arrested the following month on multiple state-level charges related to the investigation. His attorney, Kendall Gross, has said Johnson denied the allegations.

Gross was unavailable Wednesday, but a woman who answered the phone at his office confirmed that he still represents Johnson and that the state charges are still pending.

In 2015, 4 former inmates who said they were victimized by Johnson said he initially seemed like someone who cared, a comforting presence in a scary place. He said he was a pastor and recited passages from the Bible.

But he quickly began making sexual comments and touching them, they said. He identified their vulnerabilities and used them to manipulate the women into doing what he wanted, the women said.

Three of the women filed a federal lawsuit against Johnson and corrections officials in December 2015. It’s not clear whether they are the same women mentioned in the federal charges. A judge in January dismissed the women’s claims against the corrections officials, and the case against Johnson is on hold pending the outcome of a bankruptcy filing, according to court records.

(Article By Jeremiah Jones)

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