Men held at San Diego immigration detention center allege sexual misconduct by staff member

Several men detained by immigrants in San Diego said that one late morning, a staff member of the facility entered their cells unannounced to look at them vulgarly.

Four men, all in the same housing unit, filed formal complaints and shared information about the March 22 incident with the San Diego Union-Tribune, either directly or through recordings of phone calls made by lawyers. They said others had experienced the behavior, but were afraid to show up for fear of retaliation.

“I’m injured,” said Erik Mercado. “I feel like I could fall victim again at any time.”

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the government agency responsible for detaining migrants, did not respond to a request for comment.

CoreCivic, the private prison company that owns and operates the facility and employs the staff member, said it was aware of the allegations and that the situation was “fully investigated”. Spokesman Matthew Davio said allegations of criminal sexual abuse at the CoreCivic facility always referred to outside law enforcement.

“CoreCivic is committed to the safety and dignity of every person who trusts our care,” said Davio. “We have a policy of zero tolerance for all forms of sexual abuse and sexual harassment.”

Mercado, who has been at the facility for more than two years, said he was lying in bed that Tuesday morning wearing only his boxers because it was hot in his cell when a CoreCivic employee opened the door without knocking. Mercado said he turned his head and realized the clerk was looking at his butt.

“I said, ‘Hello friend, what are you doing there?'” Mercado recalls. “He said, ‘I’m looking for something big.’ This made me feel more uncomfortable. I said, “What is (abusive)?” And I sat up. ”

Mercado said the clerk was looking at his body and had an erection. Mercado told him to leave, Mercado said, and the clerk said he was looking for a 5-gallon bucket before leaving the cell.

“It’s very embarrassing for me to relive it,” Mercado said.

Mercado got dressed immediately, he said. When he entered the common area, he saw that the clerk was still entering and leaving the cells. Mercado went to a case manager in the unit’s office and told her what had happened.

At first, the person in charge of the case accused him of lying, although he finally managed to make a report. CoreCivic questioned his characterization of the behavior of the person in charge of the case, noting that he mentioned the allegations of the detainees.

Meanwhile, other men had come out of their cells complaining about similar experiences.

Among them was Elenilson Coto Delgado, who said he was wearing only his boxers when the clerk opened the door of his cell without knocking.

“He was looking at my penis,” Coto said in Spanish. “I had it covered, but I could understand what he was looking at. I said, “What’s going on?”

He remembered the clerk’s answer in English – “I’m looking at something good.”

Coto said that when he complained about the employee’s presence, the staff member seemed nervous. The clerk then said he was looking for a bucket.

Coto, who has a serious mental illness, said the experience has worsened his symptoms.

“I can not even sleep. “I think he could get into my cell,” Koto said. “I start thinking about how a person could abuse my children like this person tried to abuse me. It is not fair that we live here in this prison. “We are prisoners, we are immigrants, but it is not fair how these people want to abuse us.”

“We are tired of all this,” he added. “It simply came to our notice then. “We want people to know that we are being abused here.”

Amanda Díaz, head of a national hotline with Freedom For Immigrants, a non-profit organization working to abolish immigrant detention, said the organization often receives calls for allegations of sexual abuse. Mercado, Coto and two other men shared what happened to them over the phone.

“Sexual abuse ranging from verbal harassment to rape is rampant and is often covered up by perpetrators,” Díaz said. “ICE operates under a veil of secrecy and leaves those affected almost without a path to justice.”

Men held at San Diego immigration detention center allege sexual misconduct by staff member Source link Men held at San Diego immigration detention center allege sexual misconduct by staff member

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