March 28, 2019
(CNN) — A Guatemalan father is suing two nonprofits that house migrant children for the US government, alleging his 10-year-old son was forced to take psychotropic drugs and sexually assaulted while in custody.
The father and son, identified in the lawsuit as J.E.B. and F.C.B., allege that US officials forcibly separated them at the border in February 2018. From there, according to the lawsuit, F.C.B. was first placed in the custody of a migrant shelter run by Southwest Key in Arizona, then later transferred to the Shiloh Treatment Center in Manvel, Texas.
The lawsuit alleges that both facilities “acted with fraud, malice and gross neglect” and that staff at both facilities physically assaulted F.C.B. At the Texas facility, the lawsuit alleges the boy “was dosed with powerful psychotropic drugs without parental consent.” He was also sexually assaulted by another detained child during the last few weeks of his time in custody at Shiloh, the suit says.
Both the boy and his father were deported last year, according to the lawsuit, which seeks damages for the pain, emotional distress and medical expenses they’ve allegedly suffered.
Previous reports of abuse
Evelyn Stauffer, a spokeswoman for the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, declined to comment.
“We don’t comment on pending litigation or individual cases per privacy concerns,” Stauffer said in an email.
A Southwest Key spokesman declined to comment on specific allegations.
“We are a federally regulated and state licensed provider of shelter care services to unaccompanied minors. We are not a detention facility and our organization’s opposition to the separation of families at the border has never wavered. It was a policy that hurt children, parents and our communities,” Southwest Key spokesman Neil Nowlin said. “From the pleadings, it appears none of the serious allegations made in this filing occurred in our shelter so we cannot comment on them.”
A representative for the Shiloh Treatment Center could not be immediately reached for comment.
In response to that court order, Shiloh said in a statement on its website that “allegations specifically about Shiloh have been found to be without merit by multiple regulatory and monitoring bodies.”
“The judge’s ruling simply upholds what is already the law, and Shiloh agrees,” Shiloh said at the time. “Children should not have to remain in a more secure placement than is necessary, and children should not receive medications without consent.”