Just days after a Southwest Key worker was arrested for reportedly molesting a 14-year-old immigrant girl at a facility in Phoenix, Arizona, another employee working for the largest operator of migrant detention centers across the country has been accused of sexually abusing at least eight unaccompanied minors.
Levian D. Pacheco, a youth care staffer at the Casa Kokopelli shelter in Messa, Arizona, has been charged with 11 sex offenses – including eight counts of abusive sexual contact and three counts of sexual acts, according to Pro Publica.
The 25-year-old had been working at the detention facility for at least four months without any background checks. However, according to court documents, he did not have an arrests record or convictions for sex offenses. In August 2017, he was indicted following an investigation led by local police and the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general’s office.
Pacheco, who is also HIV positive, allegedly performed oral sex on two teenagers detained at the immigrant shelter and coerced at least one of them to penetrate him anally. He is also accused of inappropriately touching at least six children’s genital area through their clothes. All of his alleged victims are between the ages of 15 and 17 while the incidents took place between August 2016 and July 2017.
It is important to mention the Arizona Department of Health Services had previously Casa Kokopelli for failing to carry out background checks for its employees, which included a fingerprint check to see if the person held a criminal record. It’s particularly troubling given the Texas-based nonprofit only houses minors who entered the country without an adult, and most recently, those separated from their parents at the southern border.
Unfortunately, Pacheco is neither the first nor the last youth care worker to be arrested for sexually abusing helpless children at migrant detention facilities, which have been dubbed a “goldmine” for child predators.
Earlier, a 32-year-old Southwest Key employee, Fernando Magaz Negrete, was accused of touching a young girl’s breasts and crotch area over her clothes. According to the official report, he was also accused of kissing her several times.
He is now facing charges of sexual abuse, child molestation and aggravated assault.
Meanwhile, Pacheco’s trial is set to begin on Aug. 28.
In a statement to Pro Publica, Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Kenneth Wolfe said they issued a “stop placement order and removed all unaccompanied minors from the Casa Kokopelli shelter.”
It’s unclear when the agency actually issued the order.
“These are vulnerable children in difficult circumstances, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families treats our responsibility for each child with the utmost care,” he said. “Any allegation of abuse or neglect is taken seriously.”
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