CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Chattanooga Police say a third employee at La Casa de Sidney faces a sexual battery by an authority figure charge.
CPD says Rebeka Isabell Perez was a staff member at the facility operated in Chattanooga by the Baptiste Group. They were contracted through the federal government to house migrant children.
The arrest report says Perez had an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old who stayed at the facility. The report says the boy told investigators Perez kissed him on the lips while he was staying at La Casa de Sidney.
The report goes on to say that the teen told investigators Perez would make comments to him like, “I bet you get all the ladies back home.” The arrest report says that one night, Perez waited until the teen’s roommate left his room. It says Perez then came over and started kissing the 16-year-old.
The arrest report says the teen was released from the facility. It says he and Perez stayed in contact via different apps and Instagram. Police say the boy told them that Perez sent him a message informing him that the facility was being investigated and he needed to delete his apps and messages.
Perez is the third former employee charged. Randi Duarte was arrested on June 30th. Florencia Guadalupe Renderos Morales faces two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure.
After Duarte was charged, the Tennessee Department of Children's Services (DCS) suspended the Baptiste Group's license to operate the Chattanooga facility. The Chief of Staff Jennifer Donnals said it's the first time they've suspended an agency's license since 2008.
The Baptiste Group appealed the suspension but a judge upheld it. They did file a second appeal.
Immigration Lawyer Terry Olsen said he hopes the people involved are held accountable, but it shouldn’t cast a negative light on immigrant shelters overall.
"I think we should investigate and understand what's going on, but also understand the need for having the shelters and how they're actually there to assist with the minors and to also protect them," he said.
Tennessee U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty weighed in on this story Thursday afternoon.
A tweet on his account says "[HHS] @SecBecerra has ignored calls for greater transparency regarding the well-being of children in HHS custody. With a third person now charged with criminal sexual misconduct against children in HHS custody in Tennessee, it’s time for answers and a broader investigation."
Depend on us to keep you posted as we learn more.