Thursday 19 July 2018

'Disturbing, disgusting and infuriating' - policeman accused of sexually assaulting 4-year-old child of undocumented immigrant

The 47-year-old detention officer is accused of threatening the young girl’s mother with deportation if she were to report him

Authorities believe Jose Nunez is related to the victim
Authorities believe Jose Nunez is related to the victim
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A sheriff’s deputy in South Texas has been accused of sexually assaulting the four-year-old daughter of an undocumented immigrant.

Jose Nunez, a 47-year-old detention officer with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, is accused of threatening the young girl’s mother with deportation if she were to report him, authorities said.

On Sunday, the Bexar County sheriff, Javier Salazar, said investigators arrested Mr Nunez on a charge of “super aggravated sexual assault” of a child.

Mr Salazar said: “The details of the case are quite frankly heartbreaking, disturbing, disgusting and infuriating all at the same time”.

Mr Nunez, a 10-year veteran of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office who worked at the county jail, was arrested early on Sunday while he was off-duty after the mother, who is from Guatemala, took her daughter to a local fire station to seek help.

The sheriff said authorities believe Mr Nunez is related to the child victim.

Mr Salazar said the young girl had been experiencing physical pain and “made an outcry” which sparked her mother’s decision to go to the fire station. He said the little girl is now safe.

The abuse was likely to have occurred for several months and maybe even years and there may have been other victims, Mr Salazar said.

“The mother of this little girl is an undocumented immigrant, my understanding is that this suspect utilised that to his advantage to place the mother in fear that she would be deported if she did report it,” the sheriff said.

Mr Salazar said the criminal charge carries a minimum 25-year sentence. He said investigators were working to make sure the mother is given protected status pending the outcome of the case, but chose not to comment on the residence status of the child.

“My objective is to separate this person from the agency as soon as possible,” Mr Salazar said.

Super aggravated sexual assault of a child happens if the victim is under the age of 14. It also occurs if there are other factors such as serious bodily injury or if a deadly weapon is present.

Immigrant rights groups have argued Texas Senate Bill 4, which was passed in May last year, has fostered a feeling of fear among undocumented immigrants about approaching local law enforcement to report crimes.

While the law’s supporters say it is designed to protect people by enforcing laws already in place, it also allows local authorities to investigate whether a person is legally in the US.

The law punishes local officials who implement policies which limit immigration enforcement or stop police from questioning the immigration status of people they detain or arrest.

The Texas Senate Bill 4 has been the subject of several legal challenges, but it continues to remains in effect.

Mr Nunez is due in court on Monday afternoon

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