ICE defends not detaining suspect in assault on girl,
Mexican native skipped jury trial on charges he sexually assaulted girl.
A Mexican citizen who had been removed from the United States for illegal entry skipped his Travis County jury trial last week on allegations that he sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl.
Luis Ramirez-Barahona’s absence raises questions about why Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not file a detainer request and ensure that he remained in custody after his 2015 arrest. In a statement to the American-Statesman, ICE defended its decision because of “enforcement priorities at the time.”
An ICE spokeswoman declined to elaborate.
Court records show the Travis County sheriff’s office issued a warrant March 20 for the arrest of Ramirez-Barahona and filed charges for bond forfeiture, a third-degree felony. He had faithfully attended his pretrial hearings, according to prosecutors with the Travis County district attorney’s office. ICE’s statement says it is “pursuing leads to effect the arrest of Ramirez-Barahona and will place an immigration detainer on him upon his re-arrest.”
Ramirez-Barahona, 31, was out of jail on a $30,000 bond. He faces up to 99 years in prison on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child by contact.
“I feared this would happen,” said the father of the girl who alleged that she was assaulted. “We worked so hard to prepare for this date, yet the closer the day came, I had a feeling he wouldn’t show.”
This case is unrelated to ICE’s ongoing dispute with Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, who enacted a so-called sanctuary city policy by refusing to sign off on ICE detainers for all but those charged with the most
Luis RamirezBarahona could face 99 years in prison.