2 Workers at Arizona Migrant Children Centers Are Charged With Sexual Abuse
Two youth care workers at Arizona shelters for migrant kids have been charged with sexually assaulting immigrant teenagers, according to court records. They are the most current claims of abuse at government-contracted shelters that have a essential part in the Trump administration&rsquos tough-line immigration crackdown.
On Tuesday, the police in Phoenix arrested Fernando Magaz Negrete, 32, on charges of sexual abuse and child molestation right after he was seen kissing and fondling a 14-year-old girl in June, the authorities mentioned. That arrest came a day right after federal prosecutors detailed their case against yet another youth worker, Levian D. Pacheco, 25, who is H.I.V. positive and is accused of groping six teenage boys and performing oral sex on two other people at a detention center from late August 2016 via July 2017.
While the guys worked at separate facilities, both centers are operated by Southwest Important Applications, a Texas nonprofit that has received at least $955 million in federal contracts given that 2015 to give shelters and other solutions to immigrant children in federal custody. The contractor is one of the biggest operators in the very secretive, billion-dollar business of housing, transporting and watching more than migrant young children in federal custody on the southern border.
President Trump&rsquos policies on immigration, including the administration&rsquos now-defunct family separation policy, have provided a monetary boon to contractors like Southwest Key Programs. The contractors have also come below elevated scrutiny for their treatment of immigrants, prompting a top government official on Tuesday to defend the detention centers for households as &ldquomore like a summer time camp.&rdquo
But in the case against Mr. Pacheco, a federal prosecutor in Arizona provided a extremely distinct description for the juvenile migrant center where he worked: &ldquoa prison setting.&rdquo
Workers checked on the youngsters in their rooms at the facility, Southwest Important&rsquos Casa Kokopelli in Mesa, Ariz., about every 15 minutes, the prosecutor told a federal judge in January.
&ldquoDuring these check-ins and at other occasions, this defendant would go in, it&rsquos alleged, and touch these kids,&rdquo Robert I. Brooks, an assistant United States attorney, said in a hearing, according to court documents. The case against Mr. Pacheco, who has pleaded not guilty, was reported this week by ProPublica.
Allegations against Mr. Pacheco had been first reported to Mesa Police Department officers on July 24 last year, according to federal court records. Three boys, all 17, told the police related stories about their interactions with him.
A boy from Guatemala stated that Mr. Pacheco came into his bathroom early 1 morning that month and groped him as he washed his hands. An additional boy mentioned that Mr. Pacheco fondled him whilst he was in bed at evening. A third boy stated Mr. Pacheco grabbed his crotch while he was cleaning his area.
Mr. Pacheco was indicted in August 2017 and the authorities arrested him later that month in Miami following he had returned on a flight from Cuba, exactly where he was born. Mr. Pacheco was granted lawful permanent resident status in the United States right after fleeing Cuba, federal authorities mentioned.
Over the previous year, the case was handed over to federal investigators in the Department of Well being and Human Services, and additional allegations had been uncovered. Mr. Pacheco is now accused of sexually assaulting eight boys, ages 15 to 17, according to court documents.
Six boys mentioned they had been groped over their clothing, and two other individuals said Mr. Pacheco had performed oral sex on them. One of the boys stated Mr. Pacheco also attempted to engage in anal sex with him. Federal authorities told the boys that Mr. Pacheco was H.I.V. good, and &ldquoa couple of the victims&rdquo decided to be tested for H.I.V., according to court documents.
In the January hearing, Mr. Brooks told the judge, Steven P. Logan of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, that Mr. Pacheco tried to persuade one particular of the boys to run away with him.
&ldquoAll these kids are particularly vulnerable. They are young children. They are minors,&rdquo Mr. Brooks mentioned. &ldquoThey are in the United States without status. They don&rsquot know the culture. They don&rsquot know the custom, and they don&rsquot know their future.&rdquo
Mr. Pacheco, who was hired at the facility on May 23, 2016, did not submit his fingerprints for a background check to the state&rsquos Division of Public Safety till Sept. 12 of that year, according to an agency official, despite a letter sent to him asking for them. He passed the background check at the end of the month, and court records state that Mr. Pacheco did not have a criminal record just before his arrest in August 2017.
In the case against Mr. Negrete, the authorities stated a girl witnessed him kiss her roommate, a 14-year-old girl, at the center, Southwest Important&rsquos Casa Campbell in Phoenix. One more witness told the police that Mr. Negrete kissed the girl and touched her chest and vagina throughout a distinct encounter.
The Phoenix police very first learned of the allegations against Mr. Negrete on July 25, about a month after the first lady, Melania Trump, visited the same migrant center throughout a tour of facilities in Arizona.
He was arrested on July 31 and is getting held in the Maricopa County Jail on $150,000 bond. Jail records indicate that Mr. Negrete has been assigned a public defender, but a name of a lawyer was not listed.
A spokesman for Southwest Key Programs mentioned that Mr. Negrete had been fired and that the organization&rsquos workers immediately report allegations of abuse or neglect to the authorities.
&ldquoIn addition to vetting and coaching our employees, we educate each and every minor in our care of their correct to be free of charge from abuse or neglect in our program and in this country,&rdquo the spokesman mentioned in an email on Friday. &ldquoThis message is shared with them upon arrival and repeated to the young children all through the duration of their keep at our shelters.&rdquo
In 2017, the Arizona Division of Health Solutions issued a $1,000 fine to Southwest Essential&rsquos Casa Kokopelli for failing to comprehensive fingerprint background checks for 3 of its staff. The other facility, Casa Campbell, has received no citations during the previous three years, according to the state agency.
Published at Fri, 03 Aug 2018 19:54:50 +0000