Fernando Magaz Negrete is accused of molesting a 14-year-old migrant at the detention center where he works in Phoenix. He was arrested July 31, 2018.
Maricopa County Superior Court

An employee of an Arizona facility housing migrant children separated from their parents at the border is suspected of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl, Phoenix police say.

Fernando Magaz Negrete, 32, was arrested Tuesday and is facing charges of child molestation, sexual abuse and aggravated assault, court records show.

Negrete is accused of kissing the girl multiple times and touching her breasts and crotch over her clothes in the bedroom she shared with two other minors at the Southwest Key facility where he works in Phoenix. 

One of the teen’s roommates reported the allegations to police on July 25.

Court records say surveillance video showed Negrete approaching the girls’ room multiple times between 9 p.m. and about 10:30 p.m. on June 27. The doorway and bedroom are out of view of the camera, according to the records.

Sgt. Vince Lewis of the Phoenix Police Department said Negrete admitted to his involvement in the incident and was booked into jail on one count each of molestation, aggravated assault and sexual abuse.

Jeff Eller, a spokesman for Southwest Key, said Negrete was terminated following the incident, but he did not provide further details. 

“When a child tells us of inappropriate behavior, we immediately call law enforcement and start an internal investigation as appropriate,” Eller said. “Southwest Key always works with law enforcement to bring the full force of the law to bear when it is warranted.”

Southwest Key is a Texas-based non-profit that houses more than 1,500 migrant children in Arizona, California and Texas under a $458 million contract with the federal Unaccompanied Alien Children Program. Eight of those facilities are in Arizona.

Since 2015, at least two other allegations of sexual abuse at Southwest Key facilities in Tucson and Glendale have been reported, according to police records.

Negrete’s bond is set at $150,000 and his next court hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 7.

Return to for updates.


Read or Share this story: