Things That Matter

An Undocumented Girl From Guatemala Was Locked In A Room And Sexually Assaulted By Relatives, According To A Report

TW: This story contains disturbing anecdotes of sexual violence.

Arizona’s Customs and Border Patrol Agency (CBP) announced the arrest of an Iowa couple for human smuggling and sexual assault after a Guatemalan girl was found in the streets of Sioux City and told her story to authorities. The girl, whose name will not be released for her own safety, is being referred as  “ABF” on the federal affidavit detailing the perpetrator’s charges. Amy Francisco and her husband, Cristobal Francisco-Nicolas have been arrested and charged.

The couple was arrested in San Diego, but will likely face a federal court in Iowa.

ABF was found wandering Sioux City, urgently telling pedestrians she’d been sexually assaulted.

Credit: @CBPArizona / Twitter

From there, Sioux City police interviewed ABF to learn that she and her father, Fernando Bartolo-Francisco were smuggled into the U.S. by relatives, Cristobal Francisco-Nicolas and his wife Amy Francisco. She said they were released from El Paso Detention Center because of overcrowding and were flown to Omaha by their relatives.

The couple then locked ABF in a room with a metal bed and a bucket for a bathroom.

Google Images

Above is a Google image of the couple’s home where she was allegedly locked in. The affidavit said that, “ABF then stated Cristobal raped her and that Amy watched it happen from the door to the locked room. After being raped five times, ABF stated that one morning Cristobal left for work and did not lock the door.”

She then snuck out of the house while Amy Francisco was sleeping. She roamed the streets looking for someone who spoke Spanish to help her. 

The Iowa couple admitted to smuggling ABF in but requested an attorney when law enforcement began questioning them for the alleged rape of ABF.

Credit: @mosettastone / Twitter

Francisco-Nicolas told police that he made arrangements for a coyote to transfer the father and daughter to the U.S. after learning through his sister that they were desperate to leave Guatemala. 

“Cristobal stated he knows he messed up and the mistake he made was receiving these people,” the affidavit said. “Cristobal requested an attorney when law enforcement began to question him about the alleged rape of ABF.”

In response, some folks are taking the opportunity to demand CBP shut down the concentration camps and seek justice for victims within the system.

Credit: @johuyik / Twitter

In February 2019, a report was released that detailed thousands of immigrant children saying they were sexually abused in U.S. detention centers. Between 2012 and March 2018 alone, there were 1,448 allegations of sexual abuse filed with ICE. Certainly, not every victim files a complaint. 

Last year, the ACLU helped an asylum-seeker from Honduras file suit against an employee at a detention center for failure to protect her from sexual violence.

Untitled. Digital Image. ACLU. 17 July 2019

 Court documents detail how her abuser threatened her with possible deportation while their coworkers stood by and continued the jokes. There are laws in place that criminalize any kind of sexual behavior between a correctional facility staff member and the people in their custody. That’s because consent cannot happen when powers are imbalanced. This facility is still trying to deflect responsibility by saying the detainee “consented.”

Some people are taking the opportunity to blame Democrats for ABF’s assault.

Credit: @THE_DAILY_BLEAT / Twitter

Given that ICE and CBP are not being held accountable by anyone. That fact, among many others including the conditions of the camps themselves, has incited public outrage, nationwide protests, and finger-pointing on both sides of the aisle. 

Everyone seems to agree on one thing: prosecute.

Credit: @CAWPBT / Twitter

Folks who don’t want to see immigrants in this country are weaponizing the tragedy by alleging it as cause to close the border. Folks who care about immigrants see the instance as a clear example of why undocumented immigrants should be granted basic rights that would allow ABF’s father to be lawfully employed and to live openly.

The culture of fear for undocumented immigrants makes them among the most vulnerable members of our society. ABF was not registered with a school. Her father couldn’t go to authorities without risking deportation. It’s clear that an undocumented child wouldn’t go looking for the police unless her claims were valid. 

Yes, prosecute these individuals, and also make it safer for every family to exist without harm.

READ: Major Hotel Chains Are Rolling Out Panic Buttons To Protect Their Employees From Sexual Assault

Woman Alleges She And Two Other Women In ICE Custody Were Raped Hours Before Being Released And Deported

Things That Matter

Woman Alleges She And Two Other Women In ICE Custody Were Raped Hours Before Being Released And Deported

David McNew / Getty

The United States continues to detain migrants and refugees in detention centers across the country, despite a global health crisis that poses an immense risk to detainees. However, along with the threat of Covid-19 infection – longstanding abuses such as sexual assaults continue to happen inside detention centers.

One brave woman has come forward with her story about a sexual assault that happened at a detention facility outside Houston, Texas.

A federal lawsuit alleges that three women were sexually assaulted hours before being deported back to Mexico.

In a federal lawsuit that was filed on Wednesday, a Mexican woman, who was being held inside an immigration detention facility, said she was raped along with two other women. The woman, identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, is suing CoreCivic – a major private prison company that operates several ICE detention facilities across the U.S.

While in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, the plaintiff said she and two other women were taken from their dorms and placed inside a dark small room. Around midnight, three men in street wear entered the cell and sexually assaulted all of the women. The attackers hit the women in the face, used brutal force and raped each of them.

Hours later, all three of the victims were put on buses and deported back to Mexico – without even being given the chance to shower after the attack.

“She was in a very vulnerable position,” said the plaintiff’s lawyer, Michelle Simpson Tuegel. “I don’t think by chance that these women were targeted on the eve of deportation, and that she was sexually assaulted right as she was being deported.”

“It wasn’t really a position where she had anyone or could do anything at that point,” Tuegel said. 

The woman said she became pregnant as a result of the rape.

The alleged attack occurred June 1, 2018. The plaintiff released a video statement detailing some of the alleged incident. In it, she reveals that shortly after returning to Mexico, she discovered that she was pregnant.

“I became pregnant as a result of the rape and am now the mother of a girl,” she said in the video. 

Attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel said that while the plaintiff loves her daughter regardless of how she came into the world, the mother suffered a difficult birth. 

“She conceived a child as a result of this rape and then had a pretty difficult…birth in a rural area of Mexico. She would not have had that, had it not been for this rape,” Simpson Tuegel said. 

Although ICE hasn’t commented on the lawsuit, they have defended the actions of their employees.

Credit: US DHS

ICE said in a statement that it does not comment on pending litigation, but said lack of comment should not be taken as agreement with any of the allegations.

“ICE employees and contractors are held to the highest standard of professional and ethical conduct,” the agency said. “Incidents of misconduct are treated with the utmost seriousness and investigated thoroughly. When substantiated, appropriate action is taken.”

Unfortunately, sexual assault and rape are extremely common in ICE detention centers.

Credit: Sally Whitfield / Getty

According to reporting done by The Intercept, between 2010 and 2017, there were 1,224 complaints involving sexual assault. Perhaps even more startling, is that of these more than 1,200 sexual assault allegations – only 43 were ever investigated.

It’s also important to note the extreme obstacles encountered by those wanting to report assaults – from fear and retaliation to outright lack of resources. These patterns suggest that sexual assault and harassment is ICE detention centers are not only widespread but systemic, enabled by an agency that regularly fails to hold itself accountable.

Another Man Grabbed A Woman Reporter While She Was Trying To Do Her Job Live On-Air

Entertainment

Another Man Grabbed A Woman Reporter While She Was Trying To Do Her Job Live On-Air

WGN2 / Twitter

Illinois television reporter Gaynor Hall was doing her job when a man ran up and assaulted her while she was live on air. Hall, 37, had been providing viewers with a weather update in Shorewood, Illinois, on Saturday evening when a man jumped into the live shot, grabbed hold of her, and blurted out an obscenity. The man has since been arrested for assault.

The incident took place while Hall was reporting on wind damage that had occurred 45 miles south of Chicago.

According to Shorewood police, 20-year-old Eric Farina was the man in the video who “grabbed the reporter around her shoulders and uttered a profane and disturbing statement.” Upon his arrest, Farina was charged with disorderly conduct and battery. “Shorewood Detectives located Farina on Sunday morning at his residence,” the police said in a statement. “Farina made a full confession and was placed under arrest, bonded, and released.”

Farina was ultimately released on a $2,500 bond. His arrest came at the hands of help from the community.

Hall reached out to her friends and followers on Facebook and asked for help with identifying her assailant on.

***UPDATE*** Thanks to your help, he was identified and arrested. Thank you all so much for your kind words and…

Posted by Gaynor Hall on Saturday, May 23, 2020

“Thanks to your help, he was identified and arrested. Thank you all so much for your kind words and support. I am ok and I appreciate you more than you know,” Hall wrote in a post to her Facebook page.

Before his arrest, Hall published a post with Farina’s face during the attack writing “A brief note to the young man who jumped in my live shot tonight: It was not funny. You violated my personal space. You grabbed me. You scared me. Was it worth it?”

Unfortunately, incidents like these happen often to women reporters.

In December of last year, a video was posted to Twitter of WSAV reporter Alex Bozarjian being assaulted on live television. The video showed Bozarjian smiling in front of a crowd of joggers who were running the annual Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run in Georgia. Runners streamed behind her, occasionally interrupting her reporting and making goofy faces to the camera. Things took a dark turn when a male jogger came up behind Bozarjian and slapped her on the butt before he continued on his run.

Bozarjian was visibly rattled by the incident, her face appeared shocked as she struggled to regain her composure, and stumbled over her words before continuing to do her job. A concerned viewer, Twitter-user @GrrrlZilla, recorded the incident and posted a video of it to her Twitter account. “We watch @WSAV in our house every single morning,” she said in a follow-up Tweet. “Their staff is like extended family to us. I’m furious about this.” Soon after the incident, the jogger was identified by internet sleuths as Georgia man Tommy Callaway and it turned out he spends his time as a youth minister.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 63% of sexual assaults go unreported and according to The Office of Civil Rights & Sexual Misconduct women decide not to make the reports for various reasons but one of the number one reasons including not being believed or fearing that the justice system will not consider the crime “serious enough”

Check out a video of the incident here.