Things That Matter

A Woman Has Come Forward To Accuse An ICE Agent Of Rape And Threatening Her With Deportation

A Honduran immigrant, identified in the lawsuit only as Jane Doe, sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with former ICE agent Wilfredo Rodriguez for repeatedly raping her over the course of seven years.

The woman, living in Connecticut, claims that an immigration agent threatened her with deportation if she refused to have sex with him. The ICE agent allegedly, repeatedly raped her as frequently as four times a week, and impregnated her three times. The woman is seeking $10 million in damages. 

Lawyers say the woman was essentially coerced by the ICE agent. 

“My only comment is that my client had a choice, cooperate with ICE or be deported with her family,” George Kramer, the woman’s lawyer, told KTLA.

The woman hopes to change the treatment of immigrants who choose to cooperate with ICE. 

“She remains in a very fragile psychological state. She is not only seeking compensation for the physical and emotional damage she suffered but to change the way those who are cooperating with ICE are treated by those in a position of power and who often wield total control over the ability to remain in the United States, Kramer said. 

The agent allegedly coerced her to become an informant.

An ICE spokesperson said the accused Wilfredo Rodriguez no longer works for the agency. According to the woman, she first met Rodriguez in 2006 after her brother was detained for entering the United States illegally. When Rodriguez discovered she was also undocumented, he forced the woman to become an informant and help the agency find undocumented criminals to deport, the lawsuit claims. The woman says she helped them arrest three undocumented immigrants who had stabbed her husband. 

The ICE agent repeatedly raped the woman, according to the lawsuit.

While trying to locate someone in 2007, Rodriguez asked the woman to meet him at a motel where he tried to have sex with her, according to the lawsuit; when she refused, he covered her mouth and held her at gunpoint while forcing himself on her. Jane Doe alleges she became pregnant by Rodriguez in 2007, 2009, and in 2013. Each time she had an abortion, she says, and Rodriguez paid for only one.

The lawsuit states that he made the woman perform lewd sexual acts and “abhorrent sexual behavior” where he referred to himself as the “wolf” and routinely threatened to murder her and her family.  

At one point around 2010, the suit alleges, Rodriguez’s superiors became suspicious of his treatment of immigrants. Jane Doe was called into the ICE office where agents told her not to have contact with any officers outside of the office or outside of typical business hours. Rodriguez continued to contact and harass the woman, according to the lawsuit. 

In 2014, the woman was so scared of Rodriguez that at one point he called her demanding sex. She says she was so terrified she fell off a ladder after hanging up. She seriously injured her neck, back, and ribs which required surgery. 

The woman finally came forward when her father began to fear his own deportation. While filing for his asylum, she told her story, and an agent told her to consult an attorney. 

This isn’t the first time ICE agents have been accused of sexual abuse.

An ICE detention center said it was not responsible if staff abused detainees. In 2014, a 19-year-old asylum seeker from Honduras was staying at a Pennsylvania detention center with her 3-year-old son. The woman, known as “E.D.” was sexually assaulted by a guard. 

“I didn’t know how to refuse because he told me that I was going to be deported,” she told the New York Times. “I was at a jail and he was a migration officer. It’s like they order you to do something and you have to do it.” 

According to the ACLU, the employee pled guilty to “criminal institutional sexual assault under Pennsylvania law,” however the “defendants contend that they should not be liable for any constitutional violations.” The defendants claimed that the sexual abuse was “consensual” because it occurred in an immigration detention center, not a jail or prison. 

E.D. is among thousands of immigrants who claim they were sexually abused while in ICE custody over the last 10 years. ICE has reported 1,310 claims of sexual abuse against detainees between 2013 and 2017. Watchdog groups estimate that sexual abuse actually occurs at much higher rates. 

“Rather than meaningfully addressing these endemic problems in immigration detention, the Trump administration continues to aggressively target immigrants and asylum seekers by stripping away legal protections, ramping up enforcement, and expanding immigration detention,” according to the ACLU. 

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