Ex-youth care worker in Phoenix area convicted of sex abuse

- A former youth care worker has been convicted of sexually abusing seven teenage boys at a Phoenix-area shelter for immigrant children.
 
Federal prosecutors say a jury found 25-year-old Levian Pacheco of Phoenix guilty on seven counts of abusive sexual contact with a ward and three counts of sexual abuse of a ward. 

Prosecutors say Pacheco was in charge of supervising the teens at the Southwest Key facility in Mesa and sexually abused them between August 2016 and July 2017.

The teens were all unaccompanied minors and were being held in official detention pending possible deportation.

Court documents said that Pacheco is HIV-positive and that some of the teens opted to be tested for the virus.

Southwest Key suspended Pacheco, and while he wasn't working there when family separations began in large numbers this year, his sex assault case was one of several brought to light in recent months amid the highly contentious practice of detaining unaccompanied immigrant minors.

The non-profit news outlet ProPublica published a report in July saying police responded to at least 125 calls reporting sex offenses at shelters that primarily serve immigrant children since 2014.

The report detailed a 2015 incident at a Tucson, Arizona, Southwest Key facility in which authorities said an employee touched a 15-year-old Honduran boy's penis from outside his clothing. The worker was fired and later convicted of molestation.

Pacheco's case was first reported by ProPublica.

He's set to be sentenced on Dec. 3.
 

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