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Southwest Key Employee Faces Charges for Sexually Abusing Migrant Girl

An employee who works at an Arizona facility where migrant children separated from their parents are being held, is accused of sexually abusing a 14 year-old girl.

On August 1st, Phoenix police arrested Fernando Magaz Negrete, age 32, and booked him on charges for child molestation, sexual abuse, and aggravated assault.

The accusations against Negrete include kissing the girl multiple times and touching her breasts and crotch over her clothes.

The victim shared a room with 2 other minors at the Southwest Key facility in Phoenix. Police were first informed of the allegations by one of the teenager’s roommates on July 25th.

Court records indicate that there is surveillance video which shows Negrete approaching the girls' room multiple times between 9 p.m. and about 10:30 p.m. on June 27.

According to Sgt. Vince Lewis of the Phoenix Police Department, Negrete admitted to the alleged incident and was subsequently booked for one count of molestation, one count of aggravated assault, and one count of sexual abuse.

Jeff Eller, spokesperson for Southwest Key, said the company fired Negrete after the incident, but did not provide additional details. Eller said, “When a child tells us of inappropriate behavior, we immediately call law enforcement and start an internal investigation as appropriate. Southwest Key always works with law enforcement to bring the full force of the law to bear when it is warranted.”

Southwest Key, a Texas-based non-profit, houses over 500 migrant children in Arizona, California, and Texas. The company has a contract with the federal Unaccompanied Alien Children Program that is worth $458 million. Eight of Southwest Key’s facilities are located in the state of Arizona.

Since 2015, Southwest Key facilities in Tucson and Glendale have been reported two other cases of alleged sexual abuse.

Negrete's next court appearance is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 7th. His bond has been set at $150,000.

Attorneys Robert Pastor and Tiffani Lucero of Montoya, Lucero & Pastor, PA are former prosecutors who worked for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. Pastor explains that the criminal justice system can often be intimidating and confusing for victims of sexual abuse. Pastor and Lucero are able to use their experience to help victims of sexual abuse navigate the criminal justice system. The attorneys at Montoya, Lucero & Pastor will also fight for their clients to ensure perpetrators are convicted of the crimes they commit and fight to hold others accountable so that victims have the financial resources they will need to heal from the trauma caused by child sexual abuse.

Contact Our Sexual Abuse Lawyers

At Montoya, Lucero & Pastor, P.A., we are committed to protecting the rights of victims who have been sexually abused. Our team of attorneys have successfully represented clients who suffered sexual abuse from priests, religious workers, foster care parents or family members, and teachers. Let us put our skills and experience to work for you.

Call (602) 483-6869 today to schedule your case consultation. You don’t pay unless we recover compensation.