Thursday night, ProPublica reported that Levian D. Pacheco, a worker at a Southwest Key detention center in Mesa, AZ, has been charged with 11 sex offenses against at least eight “unaccompanied immigrant boys.”
The allegations against Levian D. Pacheco, who is HIV-positive, include that he performed oral sex on two of the teenagers and tried to force one of them to penetrate him anally. The other six teens — all between 15 and 17 — said Pacheco had groped them through their clothing. All of the incidents are alleged to have taken place between August 2016 and July 2017, according to a court filing last week that laid out the government’s case.
Pacheco worked at the Casa Kokopelli shelter, which was actually cited by the Department of Health Services in Arizona for “failing to complete background checks” that were explicitly in place to prevent hiring workers with previous sex offenses and other crimes.
Pacheco is accused of performing oral sex on two teenagers, and groping six others through their clothing. All of the victims were between 15 and 17 years old, and the crimes took place between August 2016 and July 2017. Pacheco is currently in the custody of U.S. Marshals. He has denied the charges.
It’s worth noting here that this happened before the so-called “zero tolerance” policy enacted by the Trump administration that significantly increased the number of unaccompanied immigrant children being kept in detention. If the old system was insufficient to protect teenagers, it’s disturbing to think what might have happened to the influx of children as young as four years old in 2018.
In fact, as ProPublica notes, other accusations have already come out, despite the reluctance of the federal officials to alert the public of such abuses:
On Tuesday, an employee at a Southwest Key facility in Phoenix, Fernando Magaz Negrete, was arrested on allegations that he sexually abused a 14-year-old girl by kissing her and rubbing her breast and crotch, according to Phoenix news outlets. And The Nation reported Friday that a 6-year-old girl who had been separated from her mother was allegedly fondled by a boy at another Southwest Key facility in Glendale, Arizona in June.
Southwest Key has received more than $1.3 billion in federal funding in the past five years.