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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Kids Say They Were Sexually Abused In Immigration Prison

SAN ANTONIO (CN) - Nine Central American children were sexually and physically abused by prison guards after Border Patrol agents arrested them and turned them over to the Away From Home Inc.in Nixon, Texas,says a suit brought by Legal Aidin Federal Court.

Among the allegations are that Nixon employee, defendant Efraen Garcia, a prison guard, assaulted and battered one child and that Nixon and its directors know of his history of beating children but leaves him "in charge of restraining the young detainees at the facility."

Five children claim that Nixon prison guard, defendant Belinda Leal, sexually fondled and abused them in detention; one boy claims she performed oral sex on him.

Plaintiff EHC claims that rather than submit to Leal's sexual abuse, he became the whistleblower in this case, and suffered such severe mental and physical harm that he tried to kill himself in the Nixon facility. In retaliation, he says, Nixon director Maggie Gaytan, U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement Field Specialist James De La Cruz, and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement official Jose Mungia, "an ICE official responsible for the assignment of unaccompanied minors to specific facilities, including the Nixon facility," had him transferred to a harsher prison in Washington state, and then to a still harsher prison in Indiana.

The children claim their abuse violates the 1997 class-action settlement in Flores v. Reno, and other laws.

The children's lead attorney is Jennifer Harbury with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid of Weslaco.

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