A federal jury has convicted a legal immigrant of sexually abusing teenage illegal immigrant boys he’d been hired to care for as part of the government’s massive program to deal with the surge of Unaccompanied Alien Children.
Levian D. Pacheco, who the government says tested HIV-positive, was found guilty of seven counts of abusive sexual contact with a ward, and three counts of sexual abuse of a ward, the Justice Department announced Monday.
The trial concluded last week and sentencing is set for Dec. 3.
Pacheco worked at a facility run by Southwest Key, one of the major contractors for the federal government in caring for the tens of thousands of illegal immigrant children who have streamed to the U.S. in recent years.
Authorities first learned of his activities after three boys last year complained about Pacheco. News of his HIV status prompted other boys to come forward and report their own abuse, the government said.
Among the reported abuse was oral sex and inappropriate touching.
Pacheco is a legal immigrant from Cuba and holds a green card. His crimes, however, make him eligible for deportation at the end of his sentence.
The facility in question is Kokopelli Southwest Key Casa in Mesa, Arizona.
Southwest Key is among the largest operators of facilities to hold illegal immigrant children, under contract with the federal Health and Human Services Department. The company has said it fired Pacheco after the initial reports of abuse.
Pacheco’s case drew national attention over the summer as news organizations began probing the conditions illegal immigrant children are held in, amid the chaos of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance border policy.
Pacheco’s crimes came a year before that policy went into effect, and the boys the jury said he abused were not part of the zero tolerance family separations.
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