Sat, 17 May 2014 23:38:54 GMT — A federal lawsuit accuses a former Pharr police officer of sexually abusing a minor and the department of protecting him from criminal charges.
She was sexually assaulted by officer Erasmo Mata five times while he was on duty in 2013, according to the lawsuit filed on behalf of the minor. The victim's identity was withheld from federal court records because she was a minor at the time of the alleged rape.
The girl and Mata had an encounter inside an abandoned Pharr home, according to federal court records.
Other Pharr police officers would stand watch while the sexual assault was being committed, according to documents filed on behalf of the minor.
The lawsuit filed earlier this week alleges former Mata, Pharr police Chief Ruben Villescas, the City of Pharr and the Pharr Police Department violated the minor's civil rights.
When her parents found out about the alleged sexual assault, they attempted to file a complaint with police, but nothing was ever done, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
The Pharr Police Department then conducted an internal investigation.
The family claims Villescas told them not to hire an attorney, and instead, he would take care of the allegations against the officer, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed after claims the department did not proceed with criminal charges against Mata or other officers.
The officers were eventually terminated, according to the civil filings.
Claims were made that the Pharr Police Department should have collected possible evidence from clothing and bedding, and a rape kit should have been done immediately.
The police department acted with malice by not protecting the girl in order shield its officers, the lawsuit alleges.
The Texas Rangers investigated the case and turned the evidence over to the Hidalgo County District Attorney's Office.
District Attorney Rene Guerra said if the Texas Rangers had found enough evidence, they could have made the arrest in the case.
The case could be sent over to a grand jury if an arrest is not made, Guerra said. A grand jury would then be able to hand down an indictment in the case without an arrest being made.
Villescas did not respond to requests for comment.
The minor is being represented by attorney Richard Alamia, who was not able to immediately comment on the case.
A jury trial in the civil lawsuit has been requested, and a pretrial and scheduling conference was set for July 9, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane.