For immediate release: Friday, December 1 at 12:00 PM
WHAT: Press conference to demand answers from Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody
WHO: Women formerly detained, advocates with Grassroots Leadership, and community members from Williamson County and Austin
WHEN: Monday, December 4 at 10:00 AM
WHERE: Williamson County Sheriff’s Office 508 S Rock St, Georgetown, TX 78626
(GEORGETOWN, Texas) — On Monday morning, advocates will hold a press conference at the Williamson County Sheriff's Office to demand answers on the status of the investigation of sexual assault complaints filed by women detained at Hutto Detention Center.
Since first speaking out on November 9th, Laura, a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a guard, is still waiting to get justice as she faces increased retaliation. “Since the day that I talked to investigators from the Sheriff’s Office and gave them all of my evidence I have not heard anything back from them. I expected Williamson County to treat the investigation differently than ICE, but up until now, they’re acting the same. I am still here inside detention and the guard still works here. I need justice,” she said.
Last week, two other women joined Laura’s claims by reporting months of sexual abuse and harassment by a guard. One woman, “Ana,” filed a complaint that led to her immediate transfer to Laredo detention facility. “CoreCivic and ICE do everything in their power to cover these types of situations and make sure everything stays internally, they think they are untouchable,” Ana said.
While ICE officials informed reporters and community members that the investigation is complete and Laura’s claims were found unsubstantiated, Williamson County has remained silent. The Sheriff's Office has allowed ICE to decide the course of the investigation despite having local jurisdiction. The Sheriff's Office has received 781 petition signatures from community members demanding a fair, transparent, and just investigation along with Monterrosa’s release.
“We demand to know why Williamson County is allowing ICE to take lead in this investigation. We’ve heard that the investigation has been concluded, but there has been no communication with Laura Monterrosa or her attorney. Williamson County has been silent on this,” said Bethany Carson, immigration researcher and organizer with Grassroots Leadership.
Sexual assault complaints by women detained at Hutto Detention Center in the past have been found to be valid. In 2011, T. Don Hutto guard Donald Dunn pled guilty to state and federal charges of molesting multiple women while transporting them to the airport. However, in 2008, Williamson County declined to prosecute another case of sexual abuse at Hutto after competing jurisdictions investigated and could not agree on jurisdiction. According to the national immigration detention visitation network CIVIC, less than 1% of sexual assault complaints filed within detention nationwide are investigated.
# # #
Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works to end prison profiteering and reduce reliance on criminalization and detention through direct action, organizing, research, and public education.
Claudia Muñoz, email@example.com, (512) 499-8111