A San Antonio deputy repeatedly sexually assaulted a 4-year-old girl, officials say — and they believe he carried out the abuse for months and maybe years, blackmailing her undocumented mother with deportation if she were to report him.
The victim’s mother eventually reported the alleged abuse anyway, which led to the arrest of Jose Nunez, 47, a ten year veteran of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.
The child is a relative of Nunez, officials said, but did not disclose details of how they are related.
The mother reported the alleged sexual assault, which she said happened when Nunez was off-duty, after the child asked her for help on Saturday, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said during a Sunday press conference.
Salazar said the mother brought the little girl to a fire station. He said the child is now safe. She suffered a minor injury and pain in at least one of the alleged sexual assaults.
“The details of the case are quite frankly, heartbreaking, disturbing, disgusting, and infuriating all at the same time,” Salazar said. Salazar said he believes the abuse went on for months, possibly years.
He revealed that Nunez allegedly threatened the girl’s undocumented mother with deportation if she reported the sexual assault.
“He utilized that [the fact she is undocumented] to his advantage, to place the mother in fear that she would be deported if she did report it,” Salazar said, adding that it was a heartbreaking aspect of the case. He urged any other undocumented citizens to feel comfortable to report crimes if they are victimized.
Nunez was arrested and charged with super aggravated sexual assault. If convicted, he faces a minimum of 25 years in jail. He’s being held without bail. The deputy was put on paid administrative leave for ten days. After that, it is expected he will go on unpaid leave during the investigation, according to The San Antonio Express-News.
Salazar said there may be other victims, including other relatives of Nunez. He asks anyone who believes that their child may be a victim to call the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office’s Special Victim’s Unit at (210) 335-6070.
“Folks like this are creatures of habit and opportunity,” Salazar said. “I don’t know that he was purposely targeting the undocumented community. Certainly what was appealing was the vulnerability of that community because they are less apt to report things.”
[Photo: Bexar County Sheriff's Office]