A 6-year-old migrant girl, separated from her family, was sexually abused while in government custody at a facility in Arizona, according to a report in the Nation.
The facility in question, Southwest Key, denied the report and said a statement that the 6-year-old girl said she was never touched.
The girl, identified as D.L. in documents obtained by the Nation, was separated from her mother at the border on May 26. She and her mother had fled Guatemala and were split up as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy, which sought to prosecute all adults crossing the border illegally, even those seeking asylum.
The girl was sent to a shelter outside Phoenix, run by Southwest Key Programs, which is the largest operator of immigration shelters contracted by the US government, where she was reportedly sexually abused by another child being housed at the residence, according to immigration rights advocates. Staff members contacted the girl’s father — an undocumented immigrant in California — to let him know about the incident, and assured him the abuse would not happen again. According to the Nation:
D.L. was reported to have been sexually abused on June 4, 2018. On June 12, one day after D.L.’s father was contacted, the 6-year-old girl was presented with the form stating that, as part of the facility’s intervention protocol, she had been instructed to “maintain my distance from the other youth involved” and had been provided “psychoeducation,” described in the document as “reporting abuse” and “good touch bad touch.” The form, posted below, shows D.L’s “signature”—a single letter “D,” next to the characterization of her as “tender age”—which supposedly confirms that D.L understands “that it is my responsibility to follow the safety plan” reviewed with her.
The safety plan, however, allegedly did not prevent the same child from hitting and fondling D.L. again, an incident her father was informed of on June 22, according to a family spokesperson.
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