Raped in Jail & Offered a Taco, Woman Says

     McALLEN, Texas (CN) — A Texas police dispatcher raped a woman for hours in her cell and when his bosses saw the footage they “offered her a taco,” but refused to take her to a hospital, she claims in a lawsuit.
     A.R. wants $70 million damages for Felipe Santiago Peralez’s “all-night invasion” of her body on May 29, 2014 in La Joya City Jail.
     With all the other La Joya officers out on patrol, Peralez entered A.R.’s cell and told her he “would make things right for her if she wanted to use the phone” after she was booked for a misdemeanor probation violation, she says in the May 27 complaint in Federal Court.
     “Peralez began an all-night invasion of plaintiff’s body, by inserting his fingers, hands, and other objects into her buttocks and vaginal areas of plaintiff’s body,” according to the 38-page complaint.
     A.R. says she cried in pain throughout the assault, which ended with Peralez forcing her to suck and masturbate him. She says she told two female police officers about the rape, and several other officers saw video footage of it, but each one refused to take her to an emergency room for an examination, as mandated by Texas law for all rape investigations.
     A.R. sued Peralez, the City of La Joya, its former and current police chiefs, its city administrator and several La Joya police officers. She also sued the city of Peñitas, its police chief and two officers. The cities are 3 miles apart in Hidalgo County on the Mexican border.
     A Hidalgo County grand jury charged Peralez with three counts of civil rights violations and one count of official oppression in August 2015, and he was sentenced to 180 days in state jail and 30 days in county jail after pleading guilty to official oppression and one civil rights charge, court records show.
     The complaint states: “On May 30, 2014 [defendant] Lieutenant Ramon Gonzalez reviewed the video recording, questioned plaintiff (A.R.) about the incident from the night before, obtained her statement, offered her a taco, declined her request for medical attention and released her to [defendant] Peñitas police Officer Elizabeth Garza without offering her medical attention or counseling.”
     Peñitas police arrested A.R. for the probation violation and took her to La Joya City Jail. Garza came to pick her up the day after the rape to take her to Peñitas for an arraignment, according to the lawsuit.
     A.R. says she told Garza what had happened and got some frightening advice.
     “Garza advised her that she should forget all about the incident and go on with her life, because ‘people come up missing all the time in the Valley,'” the lawsuit states.
     The Lower Rio Grande Valley is just north of Tamaulipas state, which has been riddled with murders in Mexico’s drug wars, between rival cartels and state and federal police.
     La Joya’s police chief at the time, defendant Geovani Hernandez, also saw the footage and briefed the city administrator, defendant Mike Alaniz, about it on May 30, 2014, A.R. says. She says Garza also told her boss, defendant Peñitas Police Chief Roel Bermea, about the rape and he told Garza to write a report, but did not call an ambulance for her.
     Texas Ranger Robert Garcia heard about the assault and after a lengthy investigation in which he interviewed Garza and Gonzalez, Rangers arrested Peralez in March 2015, according to the complaint and a report by KGBT, the Rio Grande Valley’s CBS affiliate.
     A.R. says she initially only “confided in a small circle of people” out of fear due to threats from the defendant police officers.
     “Plaintiff suffered physical pain from intrusions of her vagina and buttocks, loss of weight, concern for the well-being of her children and elderly parents, due to threats made against them by defendants if plaintiff sought recourse regarding the incident,” the lawsuit states.
     A.R.’s attorney Tammy Henderson Peden, in Houston, did not respond to a request for information about the alleged threats.
     A.R. seeks $70 million in compensatory and punitive damages for violations of the Eighth and 14th Amendments, the Prison Rape Elimination Act, bad faith and infliction of emotional distress.
     Peñitas’ attorney Oscar Longoria said he knew nothing about the lawsuit, as the city had not been served.
     La Joya’s attorney Roberto Jackson Jr. did not respond to a request for comment.

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