June 8th, 2016
On May 29, 2014, a woman was booked into the La Joya City Jail in McAllen, Texas, for violating her misdemeanor probation. That night, 24-year-old Felipe Santiago Peralez, a dispatcher with the La Joya Police Department, snuck into her cell and sexually assaulted her for hours.
“Peralez began an all-night invasion of plaintiff’s body, by inserting his fingers, hands, and other objects into her buttocks and vaginal areas of plaintiff’s body,” according to a complaint that’s part of a recent lawsuit obtained by Courthouse News.
Peralez was promptly fired and charged with three counts of violating the civil rights of a person in custody relating to improper sexual activity and one count of official oppression. After pleading guilty, he was sentenced to 180 days in state jail and 30 days in county jail.
The woman’s lawsuit alleges a shockingly callous response when she told officers at the jail about the assault. According to Courthouse News:
“She says she told two female police officers about the rape, and several other officers saw video footage of it, but each one refused to take her to an emergency room for an examination, as mandated by Texas law for all rape investigations.”
According to the complaint:
“On May 30, 2014 [defendant] Lieutenant Ramon Gonzalez reviewed the video recording, questioned plaintiff (A.R.) about the incident from the night before, obtained her statement, offered her a taco, declined her request for medical attention and released her to [defendant] Peñitas police Officer Elizabeth Garza without offering her medical attention or counseling.”
That officer allegedly proceeded to be even more insensitive.
“Garza advised her that she should forget all about the incident and go on with her life, because ‘people come up missing all the time in the Valley,'” the lawsuit states.
Although (surprise, surprise) no government agency maintains comprehensive statistics on in-custody or police sexual assault, a Cato Institute study revealed that sexual misconduct came in second to excessive use of force in civilian complaints against police: 9.3 percent of civilian complaints involved sexual impropriety, noted Truthout.org.
h/t Courthouse News
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