TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -A former employee at an immigration detention center for minors in Arizona has been convicted of sexually abusing children detained in the facility, U.S. Attorneys announced Monday.
Prosecutors said between August 2016 and July 2017, Levian D. Pacheco was employed as a youth care worker at the Casa Kokopelli Southwest Key Facility, a privately-owned immigration detention center in Mesa, Ariz., where he sexually abused at least seven teenage boys, some on more than one occasion.
On Sep. 3, a jury found Pacheco, 25, guilty of seven counts of abusive sexual contact with a ward and three counts of sexual abuse of a ward. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 3.
"Ensuring the safety of all individuals held in federal custody is of utmost importance to this office," First Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange said in a statement. "This verdict demonstrates our commitment to securing justice for the teenage boys the defendant abused and sends a message to others in positions of trust that these crimes will not be tolerated."
Pacheco's conviction is just one example of Southwest Key employees being accused of sexually abusing immigrant minors in the company's facilities.
Last month, Fernando Magaz Negrete, 32, was arrested on charges of child molestation, sexual abuse and aggravated assault.
And a recent ProPublica report revealed that police have investigated several sexual abuse allegations at the company's facilities since 2014.
Southwest Key has received at least $955 million in federal contracts since 2015 to detain immigrant children in federal custody, according to The New York Times.