Immigrant Woman Claims Border Patrol Agent Sexually Assaulted Her
McALLEN, Texas (AP) — A woman who says she was sexually assaulted by a Border Patrol agent guarding her at a South Texas hospital has filed a federal lawsuit against him, alleging he violated her constitutional rights.
The woman had crossed from Mexico into the U.S. without legal permission in April 2013 and was pulled from a bus at the Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias, according to the lawsuit filed Friday in Brownsville. The Associated Press does not identify victims of sexual assault.
While in custody at the Border Patrol station, the woman tripped on a blanket and injured her arm, according to the complaint. She underwent two surgeries at a Corpus Christi hospital and was guarded by Border Patrol agents, one of whom was Philip Westerman.
The woman says in the complaint that she woke up on April 28, 2013, to find Westerman sexually assaulting her. Her legs were in restraints on the hospital bed. Westerman made another attempt to assault her later in the day, but was interrupted when another agent entered the room, the lawsuit says.
A Nueces County grand jury declined to indict Westerman on April 4; he’d been placed on administrative leave. The Border Patrol did not immediately respond to an inquiry about Westerman’s current status Wednesday.
A lawyer who represented him during the criminal investigation did not immediately return a call for comment. No attorney was listed for him in the new civil case.
According to a Corpus Christi police affidavit, Westerman told investigators that he had no sexual contact with the woman, but that he had masturbated in her bathroom after she aroused him.
The woman said in her lawsuit that Westerman told her not to say anything.
“He said he was a Border Patrol agent and (the victim) was undocumented and his word carried more weight than hers,” the lawsuit says. After a couple shift changes in the agents guarding her, the woman told a nurse who went into the bathroom with her about the assault. Police responded and a detective took a towel she had saved.
The lawsuit says the woman was deported to Mexico before the investigation was completed.
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