MESA – An Arizona migrant shelter worker was sentenced to 19 years of prison for sexually abusing “numerous teenage boys” between August 2016 and July 2017.
Levian Pacheco, 25, sexually abused seven boys, some on multiple occasions, at Casa Kokopelli Southwest Key Facility in Mesa, Arizona. Abuse included touching the boys’ genitalia over clothes, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona.
He was sentenced Jan. 14, and the Department of Justice’s release was published Friday.
He was previously convicted of three counts of sexual abuse of a ward and seven counts of abusive sexual contact with a ward, according to the press release.
“The statutory maximum sentence for sexual abuse of a ward is 15 years in prison and the statutory maximum for abusive sexual contact with a ward is 2 years in prison,” the statement said.
Pacheco’s sentence was increased, however, because he exposed some of the boys to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The teenagers were facing possible deportation while in the facility, the news statement said.
The boys were between ages 15 and 17, according to CNN.
Southwest Key Program spokesman Jeff Eller gave The Daily Caller News Foundation the organization’s statement from September 2018:
“We are grieved that abuse occurred in one of our shelters and, with the victims, take comfort in justice having been served. As an organization, we believe in transparency. Testimony at trial clearly showed that when we learned of possible abuse, we acted immediately by calling law enforcement and suspending the individual involved. We then worked closely with law enforcement and the US Attorney’s office throughout the investigation and the trial and will continue to do so as this case proceeds to sentencing. We continue to make the safety of the children our highest priority.”
Pacheco will also have lifetime supervision once released from prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona.
Southwest Key is a non-profit that runs migrant shelters. The organization created unaccompanied minor shelters after the 1997 Flores Agreement was passed, which required the government to provide shelters for migrant children along with other guidelines for detention and release of children in immigration detention centers.
Those who want to work with Southwest Key are required to undergo 80 hours of classroom and on-the-job training before working with children.
“We also comply with state background checks and fingerprinting laws in each state in where our shelter program operates,” the organization’s website said.
All Southwest Key facilities in Arizona temporarily stopped accepting children in October 2018 after missing an employee background check deadline, KTAR reported. The deadline was set after reports of children being abused by employees.