A former Pharr, Texas police officer will stand trial in December for several felony sexual assaults on a child. Erasmo Mata Jr. attacked a minor five times while on duty with the police department, according to a lawsuit filed against the now-former officer.
The lawsuit claims that Mata sexually assaulted the minor on five separate occasions in 2013, and “other Pharr police officers would stand watch while the sexual assault was being committed.” The lawsuit was filed after the Pharr Police Department refused to press charges against Mata and the other officers involved. According to the victim’s family, Police Chief Ruben Villescas told them not to hire an attorney and said he would discipline the officers himself in an attempt to dissuade them from seeking justice.
However, the family filed the lawsuit against the Chief’s wishes, and asked the Texas Rangers to investigate the allegations. The investigation determined that the victim’s accusations were supported by evidence, and the evidence was turned over to prosecutors.
Mata and other officers involved in the attack on the young girl have been terminated from their posts, and Mata faces between 5 and 99 years in prison, plus a $10,000 fine.
Unfortunately, sexual assaults at the hands of police have become a running theme in America. Recently, Florida police officer Stephen J. Maorino was arrested after raping a woman at gunpoint on the hood of his squad car. In Oklahoma, Officer Daniel Holtzclaw is facing charges for sexually assaulting at least eight African-American women, many of whom he attacked while on duty.