AUSTIN, Texas — The nonprofit organization Grassroots Leadership received a letter detailing sexual assaults against two women at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center.
According to a press release, Laura Monterrosa sent the letter, from inside the center, describing her ongoing sexual assault by a female guard. She also wrote about another woman who was abused by two other guards.
“Speaking out about sexual abuse perpetrated by a guard while still detained takes incredible courage,” said Bethany Carson, immigration researcher and organizer at Grassroots Leadership. “As ICE has proven incapable of taking reports of abuse seriously, the least the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office can do is immediately launch a just and transparent investigation into reports of sexual abuse by guards at Hutto.”
The center, located in Taylor, Texas, is operated for Immigration and Customs Enforcement by the private prison company, CoreCivic.
Monterrosa said she was questioned by CoreCivic offcials, after they received an anonymous call about the assault. She said during questioning, they also asked about her mental health and threatened her with solitary confinement.
“The victim blaming and accusatory manner in which this investigation is being conducted is exactly what prevents most sexual assault survivors from seeking help and allows most perpetrators to go unpunished,” said Chris Kaiser, Director of Public Policy for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. “Thorough, trauma-informed investigations are especially crucial in confinement, because detained individuals are at extreme risk of sexual assault, due to the power dynamics of incarceration and threats that speaking out can impact their asylum cases. Williamson County law enforcement must intercede to conduct a just investigation to ensure the safety of Ms. Monterrosa and the other 500 women being detained at Hutto on county property.”