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Obama’s Family Detention Policy: Threaten Rape Victims With Criminal Prosecution

This is the second part in a series unraveling a trove of recently filed evidence that illuminate for the first time many of  the profoundly unlawful, immoral, and unconscionable conditions of the Obama administration’s family detention centers.

One set of documents included a declaration on the Karnes County Family Residential (Jail) Center and supporting documents, which included an English and Spanish Residential Handbook.

Given what is contained in these handbooks, it’s likely that no one in the government reviewed the contents before filing them as evidence. First, a refresher:

ICE began to detain children and mothers in KCRC in August of 2014. Since then, there have been numerous reports of sexual assault committed by staff against detainees as well as detainees against detainees.

Last month, the Huffington Post reported that “a woman locked locked in a Texas immigrant detention center is alleging that her 12-year-old daughter was sexually abused by another detainee there last month.”

Despite this report, ICE’s public defense as to why the mother and child were still detained months after the reported sexual abuse was simply that  “The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Child Advocacy Centers and the Karnes County (Texas) Sheriff’s Department  closed the case on April 20 because the “information provided by the minor could not be corroborated, and the case lacked evidence to pursue any further action.”

But the a lack of corroborating evidence is not a basis to close an investigation into sexual abuse given that in many sexual assault cases, there is no corroborating evidence. And that was clearly the case here because the factual allegations–hat an unrelated adult female “flashed the child and touched the child’s genitals–would likely not produce physical, corroborating evidence.

The only other evidence to corroborate or conversely disprove the allegation  would be accounts of eyewitnesses to the acts of sexual abuse. ICE does not claim that there was any detrimental evidence to the child’s account and as such, it is reasonable to conclude that the investigation into the child’s allegations of abuse was a sham.

Indeed, it was not the first time an investigation into sexual abuse  of a child disappeared as if nothing ever happened, as a whistleblower described in a declaration: 

“After the teenagers were all housed in rooms without any parents, it is my understanding that five boys began bullying another effeminate boy. I understood there were allegations that several assaulted the effeminate boy. All six boys involved, including the victim, were eventually placed in isolation with their families for days.

The KCRC’s Policies on Sexual Assault Should be Called the Prison Rape Enabling Act

The DHS implemented federal regulations to come into compliance with The Prison Rape Elimination Act. The KCRC policies do not only disregard the PREA regs, but also enable sexual assault by creating an environment rife with fear.

 PREA, a federal law created to prevent rape in prisons, jails, or detention centers.

On Page 6 of the KCRC’s residential handbook (Rev. March or May 2016), there is a heading titled INAPPROPRIATE RELATIONSHIPS WITH STAFF. Below it is provided in its entirety in both the English and Spanish version:

“Mothers and children should be aware of how to handle situations in which they perceive themselves to be the object of sexual advances or other inappropriate behavior by staff members. Any type of sexual advance by any staff member directed toward any mother or child is a strict violation of policy. Similarly, it is a violation of the rules for a mother or child to direct advances towards resident advisors or other staff. Resident advisors or other staff may not solicit a mother or child in any way for any type of sexual favors. Doing so may result in criminal prosecution. The same applies for a mother or child. This includes any conversations that might lead to sexual involvement. (emphasis added)”

Los Residentes deben tener cuidado con el modo en que manejan ciertas situaciones en las cuales se consideren objeto de insinuaciones sexuales u otro comportamiento inapropiado por parte de los miembros del personal. Todo tipo de insinuaciónes sexual que un miembro del personal realice a un residente constituye una violación grave a la política de la institución. Similarmente, es una violación de las reglas para los residentes hacer avances directos al personal. El personal no puede solicitar los residentes de cualquier manera para cualquier tipo de favores sexuales. Si lo hace, puede dar lugar a enjuiciamiento penal. Lo mismo se aplica para los residentes. Esto incluye todas las conversaciones que podrían conducir a la relación sexual.

 

I was so shocked when I first read this paragraph, I had to read it through several times to make sure I had not lost my mind.

 The handbook clearly states that if a staff member solicits a mother or child for any type of sexual favor, it may result in criminal prosecution to the staff member, the mother or child, or both. The sentence “The same applies for a mother or child” immediately follows the previous sentence of “doing so may result in criminal prosecution”, thus creating an unequivocally clear message to its targeted audience–mothers and children–that if they are caught in any form of sexual acts with a staff member they can be criminally prosecuted. 

The highlighted text directly contradicts both statutory and regulatory definitions of what constitutes sexual assault in a detention center and, above all, has an unmistakable effect of discouraging mothers and children victims of sexual abuse from filing complaints with Government officials. “Even if you fit the definition of a victim of criminal sexual assault under the law, you will be criminally prosecuted for it” is precisely what the text states.

It doesn’t stop there.

Below, DHS and GEO provide Mothers and Children with a false definition of sexual assault and then, yet again, threaten to discipline mothers and children who may be victims of sexual assault under federal law.

SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS:

DEFINITIONS:

Resident-on-Resident Sexual Abuse/Assault: One or more residents engaging in, or attempting to engage in a sexual act with another resident or the use of threats, intimidation, inappropriate touching or other actions and/or communications by one or more residents aimed at coercing and/or pressuring another resident to engage in a sexual act.

Staff-on-Resident Sexual Abuse/Assault: Staff member engaging in, or attempting to engage in a sexual act with any resident or the intentional touching of a resident’s genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks with the intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, arouse, or gratify the sexual desires of any person. Sexual abuse/assault of residents by staff or other residents is an inappropriate use of power and is prohibited by ICE policy and the law.

Staff Sexual Misconduct is: Sexual behavior between a staff member and resident which can include, but is not limited to indecent, profane or abusive language or gestures and inappropriate visual surveillance of residents.

PROHIBITED ACTS:

A mother and/or child, who engages in inappropriate sexual behavior with or directs it at others, can be charged with the following Prohibited Acts under the Resident Disciplinary Policy.

Code 112: Use of Vulgar, Abusive, or Obscene Phrases/ Language Code

209: Verbal Sexual Harassment of a Resident

Code 303: Rape/Sexual Assault

CONOCIMIENTO SOBRE LOS ASALTOS SEXUALES Definiciones:

Asalto/Abuso sexual de un Residente por parte de otro Residente: Uno o mas de un residente que participen o intenten participar en un acto sexual con otro residente; o el uso de amenazas, intimidaciones, manoseos inapropiados u otras acciones y/o comunicaciones de parte de uno o más de un residente con el objetivo de obligar y/o presionar a otro residente para que participe en un acto sexual.

Asalto/Abuso sexual de un Residente por parte de un miembro del personal: Un miembro del personal que participe o intente participar en un acto sexual con cualquier residente; o el manoseo intencional de los genitales, el ano, la ingle, el pecho, la parte interior del muslo o los glúteos con la intención de abusar, humillar, acosar, degradar, excitar o satisfacer los deseos sexuales de cualquier persona. El asalto/abuso sexual de los residentes por parte del personal o de otros residentes se considera un uso inapropiado del poder y tanto la política de ICE como la ley lo prohíben.

Conducta sexual inadecuado por parte del Personal: El comportamiento sexual entre un miembro del personal y un residente, que puede incluir pero no limitada, a lenguaje o gestos indecentes, profanos, u ofensivos y vigilancia de forma inapropiada de los residentes.

Actos Prohibidos

Un Residente que participe en un acto sexual inapropiado con o dirigido a otras personas, puede ser acusado de los siguientes Actos Prohibidos, según la Política Disciplinaria del Residente.

Código 112: Uso de lenguaje vulgar, o frases obscenas/abusivas Código

209: Acoso sexual verbal de un residente

Código 303: Violacion/Acoso Sexual

The definition of sexual assault is found in the DHS’ PREA regulations and the U.S. Code. 

The PREA regulations definition of sexual assault can be found at 6 CFR 115.6(5):

“Sexual abuse of a detainee by a staff member, contractor, or volunteer includes any of the following acts, if engaged in by one or more staff members, volunteers, or contract personnel who, with or without the consent of the detainee, engages in or attempts to engage in:”

The above regulations reflects the federal 8 U.S.C. 2243(b), Sexual Abuse of a Ward:

Whoever, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or in a Federal prison, or in any prison, institution, or facility in which persons are held in custody by direction of or pursuant to a contract or agreement with the head of any Federal department or agency, knowingly engages in a sexual act with another person who is 

(1) in official detention; and

(2) under the custodial, supervisory, or disciplinary authority of the person so engaging

or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both.

The KCRC handbook does not explicitly state nor does it ever mention that it is a legal impossibility for a mother or child to have “consensual” sex with a GEO or ICE staff member.

Mothers and children are literally in the custody of the GEO and ICE staff. This scenario is the equivalent of children who are totally dependent on their custodians and other adults who are able to exert control over them. Just like a 14 year old cannot consent to sex with an adult, a mother or child at KCRC cannot consent to sex with a GEO or ICE staff member.

The KCRC policy stated above, simply put, threatens victims of felony rape with criminal prosecution if they are a victim of rape by a staff member of KCRC. 

In the last section, the manual at Karnes tells mothers and children that if they engage in any sexual inappropriate behavior with or directed at others, they may be charged with Sexual Assault or Rape.

Again, mothers and children are led to believe that any sexual conduct with anyone, even if it was without the mother or child’s consent, can result in being charged with rape and sexual assault.

Lastly, the KCRC finishes the victim blaming tirade with an ourtrageous list of tips to avoid becoming a victim of sexual assault:

AVOIDING SEXUAL ASSAULT:

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself against sexual assault:

  • Carry yourself in a confident manner. Many offenders choose victims who look like they would not fight backor who they think are emotionally weak.
  • Do not accept gifts or favors from others. Most gifts or favors come with strings attached to them.
  • Do not accept an offer from another adult resident and/or child to be your protector.
  • Find a staff member with whom you feel comfortable discussing your fears and concerns. Report concerns!
  • Do not use drugs or alcohol; these can weaken your ability to stay alert and make good judgments.
  • Avoid talking about sex. Other residing here may believe you have an interest in a sexual relationship.
  • Be clear, direct and firm. Do not be afraid to say NO or STOP IT NOW.
  • Stay in well-lit areas of the facility.
  • Choose your associates wisely. Look for people who are involved in positive activities like educationalprograms, work opportunities, or counseling groups. Get involved in these activities yourself.
  • Trust your instincts. Be aware of situations that make you feel uncomfortable. If it does not feel right orsafe, leave the situation. If you fear for your safety, report your concerns to staff

Evitando las Agresiones Sexuales

Aquí hay algunos consejos para protegerse de las agresiones sexuales:
• Siga adelante demostrando seguridad. Muchos agresores eligen víctimas que lucen como personas que no se resistirían o que consideran que son débiles emocionalmente.

.No acepte regalos o favores de los demás. La mayoría de los regalos y favores traen aparejados otros compromisos.

.Si otro residente le ofrece ser su protector, no lo acepte.

Encuentre a un miembro del personal con quien se sienta cómodo para hablar sobre sus miedos y preocupaciones. ¡Reporte preocupaciones!

No consuma drogas ni alcohol, ya que pueden debilitar su capacidad para estar alerto y tomar

buenas decisiones.

Evite hablar sobre sexo. Otros residentes pueden pensar que usted tiene interés en una relación sexual.

Sea claro, directo y firme. No tenga miedo de decir NO o BASTA.

Manténgase en áreas bien iluminadas de la institución.

Elija bien a sus compañeros. Busque personas que participen en actividades positivas, como

programas educativos, oportunidades laborales o grupos de consejería. Participe también en estas actividades.

Confíe en sus instintos. Sea consciente de las situaciones que lo hacen sentir incómodo. Si no se siente bien ni seguro, retírese. Si teme por su seguridad, infórmele sus preocupaciones al personal.

In other words,  “If you do not talk about sex and are a good girl or boy, you probably won’t be raped!”

There is one other significant gigantic misrepresentation I will point out.

Juanita Hester, the Assistant Field Office Director (AFOD) in charge of supervising the KCRC, wrote in her sworn declaration to Judge Dolly Gee that:

“There is a 24-hour walk-in medical clinic, and some dental care is provided on-site.”

This is pure false statement according to ICE’s own handbook, which also has differing descriptions of the KCRC policy for medical treatment. The English version, which ICE claims was revised in March of 2016 despite the cover page and first 11 pages stating May of 2016, describes what one must do to receive medical attention:

Professional staff members provide medical services for persons housed at this facility. Sick call slips are reviewed and put into order by priority cases, which are seen within twelve (12) hours. Medical staff will gather sick call requests each shift and see patients. If you feel you have a medical problem of an emergency nature, notify any staff member and you will be evaluated by the medical staff for more immediate treatment.

  • You must sign yourself up for sick call. The resident advisor(s) or another mother cannot do it for you.
  • Sick call requests must be deposited into one (1) of the medical drop boxes located in any of the facilitydayrooms and/or dining hall. Write your request and place in the mailbox located in the dayroom or dining

    hall.

  • Someone from the medical department will pick up all requests on each shift seven (7) days per week.
  • You will be instructed when to report to medical when scheduled by the medical staff.
  • You will not be charged for medical services while a residing at this facility

If a mother or her child is sick, they must go through an lengthy process. First, the mother must herself fill out a sick call slip, deposit it in some mailbox, and then wait up to 12 hours to be seen for an appointment.

In a world where children aren’t imprisoned, if a child is sick enough to cause a parent to call the doctor, the child is seen that same day.

In an even more bizarre twist, the Spanish version of the medical policy is materially different:

El personal professional de salud les brinda servicios de atención médica para los que estan detenidos en este centro. Mientras está aquí, si está enfermo y siente que necesita atención médica, el personal del departamento de médico pueden verlo durante las visitas médicas. Las solicitudes de visita médica son revisadas y organizadas empezando con los casos prioritarios, que generalmente, se citan el día siguiente. Si siente que tiene algún problema de salud y siente que es de emergencia, comuníqueselo al personal de KCRC y será evaluado por el personal de médico para recibir un tratamiento más inmediato.

  • Usted tiene que apuntarse para solicitar las visitas médicas. El personal de KCRC u otro residente no puede hacerlo por usted.
  • Escriba su solicitud y depositelo en una de las cajas de médico localizadas en las salas de estar y en el comedor.
  • Alguien del departamento de medico recogerá las solicitudes los siete (7) dias de la semana.
  • Usted será acompañado al departamento de médico cuando se solicita por el departamento demedico.
  • No se le cobrará por los servicios de medico mientras sea un residente de este centro.

Thus, the Obama administration represented to a U.S. District Court Judge three factually different polices policies for medical treatment at KCRC.

In Spanish, DHS states that the sick call requests will generally be seen the following day. The following day could mean that the sick child or mother will likely have to wait from over 12 hours and potentially in excess of 24 hours from the moment they deposit a sick call slip the moment they are evaluated  by the medical staff at KCRC.

In sum, the Obama administration’s own evidence reveal  unconscionable policies that threaten rape victims with criminal prosecution and that the Obama administration made yet even more reckless false statements to a Federal Judge, the public, media, and the Plaintiffs.

 

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