Woman Says Border Patrolman Molested Her
BROWNSVILLE, Texas (CN) - A Border Patrol agent sexually molested a Mexican woman twice while she was restrained in a hospital bed, and the Department of Homeland Security deported her before it completed an investigation of her complaint, she claims in court.
Digna O. Quezada Cuevas sued Border Patrol Agent Philip Westerman in Federal Court on July 25. They are the only parties to the lawsuit.
Quezada says she was arrested in a bus on April 17, 2013 at the Border Patrol checkpoint at Falfurrias, Texas. Early the next morning she tripped on a blanket inside the Falfurrias Border Patrol station and injured her right arm. The Border Patrol took her to a hospital in Corpus Christi for surgery.
The lawsuit claims that Border Patrol agents harassed her with petty and malicious behavior, including denying her water, calling her a dog, and telling her she had no right to watch TV in her hospital room while she was recovering from surgery because she was "an illegal."
She had a second surgery on April 23, 2013, according to the complaint, after which she was sedated with morphine. Her right arm was useless, due to the surgery.
"At some point, Ms. Quezada Cuevas woke up and felt Agent Westerman run his hand up her left leg and put his fingers in her vagina. Then he took his fingers out, smelled them, and put them in his mouth," the complaint states.
It continues: "Ms. Quezada Cuevas then saw that Agent Westerman's penis was exposed. Agent Westerman tried to get on top of Ms Quezada Cuevas. With her left arm, Ms. Quezada Cuevas tried to push Agent Westerman away. She couldn't kick him because her legs were in some sort of restraints.
"Agent Westerman grabbed Ms. Quezada Cuevas' left hand and put it on his penis. He then ejaculated on his hand and on Ms. Quezada Cuevas. Agent Westerman used a towel and cleaned himself off before cleaning off his semen from Ms. Quezada Cuevas' hand. He threw the towel in the bathroom garbage can.
"Agent Westerman told Ms. Quezada Cuevas to be quiet about what happened. He said he was a Border Patrol Agent and Ms. Quezada Cuevas was undocumented and his word carried more weight than hers. Ms. Quezada Cuevas understood that she needed to comply with his orders since he was a federal officer."
Quezada, "in shock," says that when a nurse entered her room, she asked if the nurse could bathe her. While in the bathroom, she says, she saw that the towel Westerman had used was in there and "she retrieved it to keep it as evidence of the sexual assault."
After her bath, which "took a long time," the nurse put Quezada back into bed, with leg restraints. Westerman returned and "tried to sexually assault Ms. Quezada Cuevas again," the complaint states. "He came over to Ms. Quezada Cuevas and unbuttoned his pants. He had his penis out and he tried to get on top of her. She couldn't kick him because of the restraints on her legs."
Quezada says Westerman stopped when a second Border Patrol agent entered the room.
After a midnight shift change, Quezada says, other Border Patrol agents arrived and denied her water and refused to let her go to the bathroom or speak to a nurse.
The complaint continues: "A few hours later, Ms. Quezada Cuevas began crying and couldn't stop. A nurse asked Ms. Quezada Cuevas what was wrong, but Ms. Quezada Cuevas was afraid to say anything in front of the Border Patrol agents. So the nurse and Ms. Quezada Cuevas went into the bathroom and Ms. Quezada Cuevas told the nurse about the sexual assault and that Ms. Quezada Cuevas had the towel with Agent Westerman's semen.
"The Corpus Christi Police and the Sheriff arrived to investigate the sexual assault. The hospital staff then dismissed the Border Patrol agents from Ms. Quezada Cuevas' room. A Spanish translator was brought in. A detective took photos and carried away the towel.
"At a later date, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security removed Ms. Quezada Cuevas to Mexico without completing an investigation of her complaint."
Quezada seeks damages and punitive for constitutional torts.
She is represented by Javier Maldonado, of San Antonio.
Westerman, 42, was arrested in May 2013 and charged with second-degree sexual assault, according to Texas news reports. A Nueces County grand jury no-billed him in April this year for lack of evidence, according to KZVT-10, CBS News' Corpus Christi affiliate.