Supporters of undocumented immigrant in jail request separate investigation into sexual assault allegations

Posted at 7:11 PM, Jun 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:31:45-04

Supporters of an undocumented immigrant who is incarcerated at the McLennan County Jail is asking the McLennan County Sheriff's Office to investigate sexual assault allegations for a second time. If they don't reopen the case, the group is petitioning for an outside agency, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Texas Rangers to look into it. 

Members of the Waco Immigrants Alliance who gathered outside the department's office on Monday said a female jailer at the Jack Harwell Detention Center touched Estela Briceno Fajardo inappropriately on several occasions.

”It was a search or pat-down. It was very unnecessary and it was no one else that was searched at the same time as her but it was very aggressive or things were being said," Waco Immigrants Alliance Leader Hope Mustakim said.

The McLennan County Sheriff's Office has oversight of the detention center but it is operated by La Salle Corrections. The private company initially conducted the investigation of the allegations and MCSO looked into it in May.

Chief Deputy David Kilcrease said inmates are searched at different times when they are in jail. 

"I will follow up on that investigation. There are some things I would've liked to be done differently. However, this does not rise to a sexual assault. It is a pat-down of an inmate," Kilcrease said. 

He said there may be another motive the mother of four reported these allegations.

"If this is an act to try to establish a claim not to be deported, it's shameful. I will review the case and if there is anything that we can do, it will be done," Kilcrease said. 

Central Texas News Now received an email from Mustakim after the story aired at 6 p.m. on Monday with a quote from Fajardo's immigration attorney.

"Estela didn’t even know that the U Visa could be used to help her in the situation until I met her in April. She made her outcry of sexual assault before that. So her accusations have nothing to do with her scheming to get legal status. Her legal team is who figured that out," Immigration Attorney Anali Looper said.

The supporters of the Waco business owner are asking the department to interview four additional inmates who witnessed the assault and the ongoing harassment. Kilcrease said they will ensure every witness is interviewed.

“There will be a follow up on this and there will be procedural things that I want to change that I didn't like," Kilcrease said.

He added he wanted to address the reason behind a video overwriting the recording of when the incident happened.  

Fajardo's new attorney will also complete the Violence Against Women Act application that would grant Fajardo deferred action from deportation because she was a victim of domestic violence for her entire life. 

In an email Mustakim sent after 7 p.m. on Monday, she stated the application is not related to the assault at the detention center. In addition, she said she also received poor legal advice in the past.

"Her immigration status is extremely compromised right now. Even if turns out well with the criminal charges, she will still have expedited removal to the border. She has been here 30 years and we want her to stay," Mustakim said. 

A sentiment that is shared by Fajardo's employee Holly Gorgas. 

“I love her and she is one of the greatest women I’ve ever known. She has been good to me as a friend and giving me opportunity. I would love to see her out," Gorgas said.

In addition to the immigration hold, Fajardo faces engaging in organized criminal activity charges and criminal conspiracy related to burglary of habitation. 

According to Waco Police arrest affidavits, Fajardo purchased jewelry, TV and iPads  that were stolen during a burglary on January of 2016. Mustakim said when she wasn't aware the items had been stolen when she bought them. 

In an email, Mustakim sent to the CTNN after the story aired, she said the charges against Fajardo were dropped to misdemeanors of stolen property. 

Kilcrease said if the new investigation finds out any wrongdoing, they will address it. 

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