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Expert: Sex Abuse Allegations Impact Other Migrant Kids In Shelters

Southwest Key facility
Jackie Hai/KJZZ
A Southwest Key facility in Phoenix.

Two employees of local facilities run by Southwest Key Programs have been accused of sex crimes against the migrant children they serve.

One expert says for kids still living in shelters, knowing about the alleged crimes can make them more vulnerable to abuse.

One Southwest Key employee is accused of sexually abusing eight teenage boys in 2016 and 2017 at a shelter in Mesa. The other is accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl at a Southwest Key facility in Phoenix in June.

Knowing about alleged abuse makes kids still living in shelters more afraid, and less likely to report future incidents, said Dr. Nayeli Chavez-Dueñas, associate professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

“And also fear that if they report it, would that affect their petition for asylum,” she said.

Southwest Key Programs declined to comment.

A former manager for the nonprofit said all employees have to pass a background check that is strict, conservative and designed to eliminate risk.  

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.