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Staff member at facility for migrant children accused of touching minor, police say

Posted at 10:18 AM, Aug 01, 2018

Police are investigating after an underage girl was reportedly touched inappropriately at a Southwest Key facility in Phoenix. 

According to the Phoenix Police Department, 32-year-old Fernando Magaz Negrete, who works at the facility was seen by a juvenile witness touching a 14-year-old victim inappropriately on June 27.

Court documents say a 16-year-old saw Negrete touching her roommate in their bedroom in June.

The witness says she allegedly saw Negrete touching the girl's genitals and kissing her, court documents said. Additionally, Negrete was seen on surveillance video entering the girl's bedroom several times throughout the night.

Negrete was contacted by police on Tuesday and made statements regarding his involvement. He was booked into jail on charges of molestation, sexual abuse, and aggravated assault. 

Arizona Representative Ruben Gallego wrote a letter on Wednesday, asking for the Department of Health and Human Services' Inspector General to do an investigation of widespread reports of sexual abuse involving migrant children in federal custody. He also asked about their policies and whether they're following childcare regulations.

The incidents include physical and sexual abuse suffered by a 6-year-old girl at a Southwest Key facility in Glendale, according to Gallego's office. 

Tucson police have also investigated multiple molestations at local Southwest Key locations. According to police reports obtained from ProPublica, police investigated molestation claims dating to 2014.

Around the country, migrant children have reported abuse, neglect and assault at immigrant detention facilities

The Phoenix Southwest Key facility where Negrete worked is the same location First Lady Melania Trump visited in June.

Southwest Key spokesperson Jeff Eller released the following statement on Wednesday: 

“When a child tells us of inappropriate behavior, we immediately call law enforcement and start an internal investigation as appropriate. That’s what happened in this case. Southwest Key always works with law enforcement to bring the full force of the law to bear when it is warranted.”