After experiencing the trauma of being separated by their families at the border, three Salvadoran children were subjected to further trauma when workers at their shelter sexually abused them, a government official from El Salvador said.
The Associated Press reported that Liduvina Magarin, deputy foreign relations minister for Salvadorans overseas, told journalists of the alleged abuse of children from ages 12 to 17 on Thursday. The Salvadoran government is providing lawyers for the families should they decide to use them. These abuses allegedly took place in Arizona shelters but the shelters were not named.
In August, an employee at an Arizona facility for detained immigrant children, Fernando Negrete, was arrested on suspicion of sexual abuse and faces charges of sexual abuse, aggravated assault, and molestation of a child. According to the Arizona Republic, the victim’s roommate told police that the suspect had kissed the 14 year-old victim and touched her breasts and crotch — claims that were backed up by video. Negrete admitted to his involvement, police said.
There are allegations of abuse at many other facilities housing undocumented children, many of which receive taxpayer funds. A Texas Tribune report in June found that dozens of these facilities have had health and safety violations as well as sexual and physical abuse.
In July, ProPublica published a report on sexual abuse by obtaining police reports and call logs from more than two-thirds of these shelters. Police responded to at least 125 calls that reported sex offenses and although the majority of the people responsible for these offenses were placed on administrative leave or were convicted, some of the staff is still employed at these shelters, ProPublica found.
ThinkProgress reported on a case in July where a man with a history of serious sex crimes allegations, such as advances on a high school student, worked at a shelter for undocumented immigrant children in Topeka, Kansas. Although the executive director of the shelter said he doesn’t have contact with children, a former employee, Myra Gillum, told ThinkProgress at the time, “The kids literally have to walk past his office to get to the counselors.”