Tucson (AZ), .- After cases of sexual abuse and harassment of minors, Juan Sanchez, the founder and director of Southwest Key, the private company of shelters for immigrant children largest in the country, resigned his position, according to a letter that the board of directors of the company today sent to Efe.
“In agreement with Dr. Sanchez, the board of directors believes that it is time to start a new chapter in Southwest Key,” the director of the board itself, Orlando Martinez, said in the letter.
Martinez said the mission of the shelter network is more important than ever and that Joella Brooks will temporarily occupy Sánchez’s responsibilities while hiring a new director.
Sánchez’s resignation comes after months of controversy surrounding the internal operations of the shelters, where several cases of sexual harassment and abuse were reported to immigrant children in states such as Arizona.
“Recent events have convinced me and our board of directors that Southwest Key will benefit from a new perspective and new leadership,” Sanchez wrote in an internal communication sent today to employees.
“The widespread misunderstanding of our business and unfair criticism of our people have become a distraction that our employees do not deserve, and I can not take it anymore, it’s time for new beginnings,” added Sanchez.
Last February, Levian D. Pacheco, former employee of Southwest Key and who is a carrier of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), was sentenced to 19 years in prison for harassment and sexually abusing at least seven unaccompanied immigrant children, who were being held at the KoKopelli Center of Southwest Key, in Mesa, Arizona.
At the end of 2018, this private company was involved in another controversy when videos surfaced where employees of this center push and drag immigrant children.
Sanchez established Southwest Key in 1987. Currently, the company has 26 shelters in seven states, including Arizona, Texas and California.
In the last five years, Southwest Key has hosted 100,000 unaccompanied immigrant children.
Last December, the Department of Justice initiated an investigation into the use of federal funds by Southwest Key. (EFEUSA)