A Texas detention officer allegedly sexually assaulted the 4-year-old daughter of an undocumented immigrant and threatened to deport the mother if she told the authorities, according to local police.
Jose Nunez, 47, was arrested Sunday by Bexar County police and charged with “super aggravated sexual assault,” the San Antonio Express-News reported.
“The details of the case are, quite frankly, heartbreaking, disturbing, disgusting and infuriating all at the same time,” Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said in a press conference, according to The Washington Post.
The girl’s mother reported Nunez to police after she heard her child cry out on Saturday night, Salazar said.
The abuse allegedly went on for “months” or even “years,” Salazar added. An exact timeline of the assault cannot be released yet, as the investigation is ongoing, Bexar County Sheriff official told The Daily Beast on Monday. The authorities encouraged potential additional victims to report to the police.
A separate investigation into Nunez’s police conduct is also ongoing, Salazar said Sunday. The officer allegedly blackmailed the little girl’s mom, making her live “in fear that she would be deported” if she went to the authorities about the alleged abuse, Salazar said.
“We believe that there was some hesitation on the part of the witness to report the conduct because of the fact that she’s undocumented in the country,” Salazar said, according to the Post.
Nunez is accused of inappropriately touching the 4-year-old, whom he’s related to, many times at her home, according to the Post. He faces up to at least 25 years in prison if convicted.
“Folks like this are creatures of habit and opportunity,” Salazar added. “I don’t know that he was purposely targeting the undocumented community. Certainly I think what appealed to him, in this case anyway, is the vulnerability of that community because of the fact that they’re less apt to report things.”
Nunez’s arrest comes as officials from cities with high populations of undocumented immigrants are seeing a decrease in domestic violence cases. In Houston, reports of rape from Latinos dropped over 40 percent from 2016 to 2017. In Los Angeles, reports of domestic violence in the Latino community dropped by 10 percent. And in Denver, the city attorney said that people have skipped court and let alleged abusers “walk free” due to fear of deportation.
Police nationwide have pointed to the possibility of deportation as a reason for the drop in reports of domestic violence incidents from undocumented communities, according to The New York Times.
As Olivia Rodriguez, the Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Council executive director, told the Times last April, “They assume that if they call a government entity it’s all connected, that they will be reported to ICE and sent away. So instead they are just taking the abuse.”