A 4-year-old girl cried out to her mother over the weekend near San Antonio, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said Sunday during a news conference. The girl told her mom that another relative had been touching her.
Her mother, an undocumented immigrant, came forward, even after that relative threatened her with deportation if she told authorities, Salazar said.
It was "another heartbreaking aspect to this case," he said. "This suspect utilized that to place the mother in fear that she would be deported if she did report it. ... That's always a concern in the undocumented community."
That suspect, a family member of the girl and her mother, is a 10-year veteran of the same Sheriff's Office. Jose Nunez, 47, was arrested Sunday and charged with super aggravated sexual assault of a child.
To avoid deportation, Salazar's office is working on getting the mother "protected (immigration) status pending the outcome of this case," he said.
Nunez, a detention officer with the Bexar County Sheriff's Office, will be on paid administrative leave for 10 days during the department's internal affairs investigation, but Salazar said it was his intention to terminate the officer at the earliest possible date, pending the outcome of both investigations. According to KSAT, Nunez was assigned to a Bexar County annex jail at the time of his arrest.
The mother took her daughter to a San Antonio fire station to report the abuse, which investigators believe has gone on for months, at least. Nunez is accused of touching the child's genitals in such a way that "caused pain and at least some indication of minor injury," Salazar said.
The charge of super aggravated sexual assault of a child means that the alleged victim is under the age of 6, which allows for a harsher sentence structure in Texas. Nunez will face a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison if he is convicted of the sexual assault.
"The details of the case are quite frankly heartbreaking, disturbing, disgusting and infuriating all at the same time," Salazar said. Investigators believe Nunez may have sexually assaulted other relatives as well.
The child cried out to her mother on Saturday, according to Salazar. Nunez was arrested early Sunday morning, according to jail records. Bond was not listed.
The identities of the child and her mother were not released by law enforcement.