A Honduras woman, identified as E.D, said an ICE staff member sexually assaulted her while in a U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) detention center.
E.D. was in one of the ICE detention centers in Pennsylvania, with her three years old son, when an ICE staff member, Daniel Sharkey, threatened her with deportation if she refused his advances. She stated further that other workers were present, cheering Sharkey, according to a lawsuit filed against the primary accused, Sharkey, ICE, the Berks Family Residential Center and several other staff members as accomplice.
The officer, Sharkey, pleaded guilty of sexual assault but firmly pleaded not guilty of the violation of a federal law which clearly disallows relationship between prison staff members and inmates. He explained that it was consensual in a rather uncanny inconsistency. It must be noted that according to the federal law – Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 – that prohibits sexual interaction between prison staff members and inmates, consent is not a leeway.
However, the defense camp refutes the applicability of this law in the case at hand stating that Berks Family Residential Center is technically not a prison.
Just One in Many
As shameful as the E.D.’s case, it is unfortunately not a unique situation. Between 2013 and 2017, 1,310 acts of sexual abuse against detainees were reported according to an official record released by ICE. ICE officials declared this figure low, but experts argue that the number is most likely not a true representation of sexual assaults committed by ICE employees in the light of the massive number of immigrants that pass through their various facilities.
Lay aside the misrepresentation of figures; no act of sexual assault against a detainee is acceptable. The reaction of ICE officials to this figure explains the attitude that breeds such act in their centers.
It is pertinent that appropriate actions be taken to nip this act in the bud. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needs to conduct thorough investigations across all ICE facilities, whether they are technically considered prison or not.
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