Migrant children pushed and dragged at shelter

An Arizona migrant shelter is under investigation after surveillance video surfaced showing staffers push and drag children inside the facility.

Posted: Jan 2, 2019 2:49 PM
Updated: Jan 2, 2019 3:12 PM

A case regarding the alleged abuse of migrant children in a Southwest Key shelter will be referred Monday to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for review and to determine whether criminal charges will be filed, authorities in Arizona said.

The news comes after the Arizona Republic first obtained surveillance videos through an open records request that show staffers pushing and dragging migrant children in a shelter operated by Southwest Key, the nation's largest provider of migrant children shelters.

According to the newspaper, the incidents took place at the Hacienda Del Sol shelter in Youngtown in mid-September and involved three children and numerous staffers.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office initially told CNN it investigated the allegations and determined the actions did not rise to the level of criminal charges.

But the office changed its mind and said in an updated statement released Sunday: "Based upon the evidence gathered during this thorough investigation, MCSO executive command has made the decision to submit the case to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for its review and determination of criminal charges."

Amanda Steele, a spokeswoman with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said once the case is submitted by police, prosecutors may decide to file charges if they have "evidence to establish a reasonable likelihood of a conviction."

"This standard ensures we do not needlessly charge persons we cannot prove are guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt," she said.

She added the immigration status of any victims will have "absolutely no bearing on any charging decision."

Videos show staff members shoving, dragging children

Southwest Key closed the Hacienda Del Sol facility in late October after negotiations with state health authorities, who were considering revoking the licenses of 13 Southwest Key shelters in Arizona.

CNN previously reported the Arizona Department of Health Services considered the move because Southwest Key had failed to provide the department with proof that it conducts background checks on employees.

The videos were blurred and edited by the state's Department of Health Services, which licenses the migrant shelters.

One clip published by the Arizona Republic shows a male staffer dragging a young child into the room and pushing him against the wall. There appears to be a confrontation between the two before the male staffer leaves the room.

Another video shows a female staff member pulling a child through the room and attempting to enter another room.

The child lies on the ground and the female staffer drags the child through the doorway as another staff member pulls a different child into the conference room and drags that child into the next room.

Two staffers fired, source says

Southwest Key declined to comment on the referral of the case.

Spokesman Jeff Eller told CNN that the company self-reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and local police at the time the events occurred.

After an internal investigation, two staff members were fired and additional disciplinary measures were taken against other staffers, said a source with direct knowledge of how the incidents in the videos were handled.

The Arizona Department of Health Services confirmed to CNN that it did receive a report about the incident in mid-September and that it prompted an investigation and on-site inspection.

"During an informal settlement conference, both parties agreed to the terms of a settlement agreement, including the surrender of two licenses, along with other provisions to ensure the health and safety of children under SWK care," the agency said in a statement Monday. "The facility where these videos were taken is no longer in operation, due to the surrender of the license."

In October, Eller said Southwest Key "wholeheartedly welcomed the Office of Refugee Resettlement's decision to suspend operations at Hacienda Del Sol and are working to thoroughly retrain our staff. We are simultaneously engaging the Child Welfare Consulting Partnership to do an independent, top to bottom review of our processes, procedures, hiring and training in our Arizona shelters."

An HHS spokesperson said the agency focuses on the safety and best interest of each child.

"These are vulnerable children in difficult circumstances, and ORR exercises its custodial responsibility for each child with the utmost care," the spokesperson said. "When any allegations of abuse or neglect are made they are taken seriously, investigated and swift action is taken."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 31376

Reported Deaths: 1976
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9132533
Lake3260167
Cass15816
Allen124065
St. Joseph115534
Hendricks111765
Hamilton109691
Johnson1080104
Elkhart99127
Madison58058
Bartholomew47433
Porter47321
Clark45338
LaPorte39921
Tippecanoe3693
Jackson3591
Delaware34933
Howard34517
Hancock31727
Shelby31221
Floyd31238
Boone28135
Morgan25824
Vanderburgh2422
Decatur22231
White2218
Montgomery22116
Clinton2081
Harrison18421
Noble18120
Grant18120
Dubois1782
Greene16723
Warrick16426
Dearborn16221
Monroe15810
Henry1566
Lawrence14222
Vigo1417
Miami1371
Putnam1317
Jennings1264
Orange12422
Scott1163
Ripley1126
Franklin1068
Carroll912
Daviess8116
Steuben792
Kosciusko781
Newton7410
Wabash722
Wayne695
Marshall641
Fayette634
LaGrange602
Jasper541
Washington521
Fulton461
Rush452
Jay430
Jefferson411
Clay391
Pulaski390
Randolph383
Whitley342
Brown331
Sullivan321
Starke313
Owen311
DeKalb281
Knox240
Benton240
Crawford230
Perry230
Huntington222
Tipton221
Wells220
Blackford201
Switzerland190
Fountain172
Posey170
Parke170
Spencer141
Gibson132
Ohio130
Adams121
Warren121
Vermillion90
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0152

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 31911

Reported Deaths: 1969
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5188228
Cuyahoga3927209
Marion261721
Hamilton2403128
Lucas2107229
Pickaway204235
Mahoning1334169
Summit1220159
Butler77625
Stark68289
Lorain64158
Montgomery59315
Trumbull52542
Columbiana47850
Belmont38412
Miami34830
Warren32819
Tuscarawas3122
Portage31058
Delaware29613
Medina28819
Ashtabula27732
Wood27445
Lake26711
Geauga25629
Wayne24850
Fairfield2403
Clark2066
Licking20410
Allen18931
Mercer1843
Richland1833
Clermont1815
Erie1555
Darke15116
Madison1337
Washington11718
Morrow1041
Crawford1043
Greene935
Ottawa907
Putnam8514
Monroe7111
Hocking654
Sandusky6510
Ross632
Jefferson622
Auglaize593
Huron521
Williams511
Hancock481
Muskingum450
Union430
Clinton430
Hardin400
Shelby402
Logan370
Wyandot362
Fulton360
Fayette340
Defiance322
Preble311
Guernsey310
Lawrence280
Carroll282
Champaign261
Holmes251
Brown241
Coshocton240
Knox231
Vinton190
Perry181
Highland181
Seneca182
Ashland170
Scioto150
Henry140
Athens141
Paulding130
Jackson110
Harrison100
Adams81
Gallia71
Pike60
Meigs60
Morgan50
Noble50
Van Wert50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Few Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 81°
Angola
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 82°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 80°
Decatur
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 73°
Van Wert
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 73°
Pop-Up Storms Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events