Worker at immigrant children's shelter accused of molesting teen

7 months 2 weeks 3 days ago Thursday, August 02 2018 Aug 2, 2018 Thursday, August 02, 2018 2:03:00 PM CDT August 02, 2018 in News
By: Joe Sutton, Nicole Chavez and Jason Hanna, CNN
Fernando Magaz Negrete, 32, was arrested Tuesday after the girl and two of her roommates accused him of kissing her at a Southwest Key facility in Phoenix in June, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by CNN affiliate KTVK.

   (CNN) -- A worker at an Arizona immigrant children's shelter has been arrested on suspicion of molesting a 14-year-old girl at the facility, police said.

Fernando Magaz Negrete, 32, was arrested Tuesday after the girl and two of her roommates accused him of kissing her at a Southwest Key facility in Phoenix in June, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by CNN affiliate KTVK. The center is known to house children separated from their parents at the border.

One of the roommates also alleged Negrete inappropriately touched the girl, the affidavit says.

Negrete was an employee of Southwest Key, a nonprofit group that runs immigrant children's shelters in several states, including Arizona, Texas and California.

According to the affidavit, police were called to the Phoenix facility on July 25 after one of the girl's roommates alleged she saw Negrete kissing and inappropriately touching the girl during the previous month.

The kissing and touching happened in the girls' bedroom, the roommate said in a subsequent interview, according to the court document.

The 14-year-old girl and a second roommate also alleged that Negrete had kissed the teenager on the lips, the affidavit says.

Negrete, during an interview with detectives at his home Tuesday, admitted to kissing the teen, according to the affidavit.

Negrete is being held on one count each of molestation, aggravated assault and sexual abuse, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said. Bond is set at $150,000, and he is due to appear in court next week.

The Maricopa County public defender's office said a public defender will represent Negrete, but one hasn't been assigned yet.

Southwest Key said it has launched an internal investigation.

"When a child tells us of inappropriate behavior, we immediately call law enforcement and start an internal investigation as appropriate. That's what happened in this case," Southwest Key spokesman Jeff Eller said in a statement. "Southwest Key always works with law enforcement to bring the full force of the law to bear when it is warranted."

Eller told CNN he couldn't say if the alleged victim was a minor separated from her parents due to Office of Refugee Resettlement restrictions.

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