Immigrant Worker Arrested For Sexual Assault On Minors

No Matter How You Came To The United States, You DESERVE To Not Live With The Fear Of Sexual Assault

Levian D. Pacheco molested at least eight children between 2016 and 2017 while they were in the care of a migrant children facility.

According to federal court records, a worker for Southwest Key has been charged with 11 sex offenses after authorities accused him of molesting at least eight unaccompanied immigrant boys over nearly a year at one of the company's shelters in Mesa, Arizona.

The charges against Levian D. Pacheco were first reported by ProPublica.

When an adult is referred for prosecution, a child traveling with the adult is turned over to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. Migrant children who crossed the border were taken to a facility after entering the United States. While I appreciate the effort made by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to contain all of the children in a safe, enclosed environment, I am terrified that the fear of sexual assault lurks around every corner.

Federal prosecutors laid out the case against Levian D. Pacheco in a court filing, submitted on July 30.

The prosecution alleges that he sexually abused eight minors between the ages of 15 to 17 in the Casa Kokopelli shelter in Mesa, Arizona.

The facility is run by Southwest Key Programs, which has a contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This department is supposed to protect migrant children whose parents are being punished for crossing the border. Yet, in this case, this facility has been the host of numerous sexual assaults.

Parents bring their children across the border for a reason: to live a better life. When they are forced to be separated, their parents trust that the U.S, the government will protect their children to the best of their ability. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to have parents be forcibly separated from their children, only to find out that they were sexually assaulted.

Casa Kokopelli was cited by the Arizona Department of Health Services in 2017 for failing to complete background checks, including fingerprinting, to ensure that employees had not previously committed sex offenses and other crimes, records show. Yet, Pacheco worked for nearly four months without a complete background check and those records did not show any previous arrests or convictions for sex offenses.

Then how was he able to sexually assault eight children at the facility he worked for?

"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," said HHS spokesperson Kenneth Wolfe. "Any allegation of abuse or neglect is taken seriously."

The filing alleges the inappropriate contact took place between Aug. 29, 2016, and July 24, 2017. The allegations against Pacheco include that he performed oral sex on two of the teenagers and tried to force one of them to penetrate him anally. Pacheco had groped the other six teens through their clothing. The current charges include eight counts of abusive sexual contact with a ward and three counts of sexual acts with a ward.

Pacheco disclosed he was HIV positive when he was arrested, according to court records.

The official definition of HIV is a virus spread through certain body fluids that attacks the body's immune system, specifically the CD4 cells, often called T cells. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can't fight off infections and disease. Untreated, HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells (T cells) in the body. This damage to the immune system makes it harder for the body to fight off infections and some other diseases.
How terrified must the children have been to have found out that a sexual assault affects the rest of their life?
HIV cannot be cured. Therefore, the children who received HIV from Pacheco will have to live with the fact that they are HIV positive for the rest of their lives. Normally, people who are in a sexual relationship will disclose their STD status before any intimacy occurs. But the children who were raped by Pacheco were not given that luxury.
The United Nations human rights office has also called for an end to the Trump administration's practice that separates children and parents, saying that using immigration detention and family separation "as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles."
Trump's zero-tolerance policy is destroying the image of the United States as a "world power" and a "melting pot." I am not a Trump supporter, but I do not hate those who support Trump. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but everyone who is a citizen of the United States deserves an opportunity to make a life for themselves.
No matter how you came to the United States, you DESERVE to not live with the fear of sexual assault.
Pacheco's trial is scheduled to begin on August 28, and I hope that he gets the punishment he deserves for destroying the lives of the eight teens he raped.
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