KJZZ is a service of Rio Salado College,
and Maricopa Community Colleges

Copyright © 2024 KJZZ/Rio Salado College/MCCCD
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Trial Starts For Former Shelter Worker Accused Of Molesting Migrant Teens

Trial started Tuesday in federal court in Phoenix for a former youth-care worker accused of sex crimes at a shelter for young migrants in Mesa. The incidents allegedly took place in 2016 and 2017 at a facility run by Southwest Key Programs, a government-contracted nonprofit.

In opening statements, prosecutors said 25-year-old Levian Pacheco allegedly preyed on eight teenage boys for “his own sexual gratification.” 

Pacheco, who is HIV positive, allegedly performed sex acts on two boys and touched six others.

One of the alleged victims took the stand, saying through an interpreter that Pacheco came into his room one night and molested him.

But defense attorneys said Pacheco is wrongly accused and is being targeted because he’s openly gay. They said the teens lied about the abuse in order to obtain a visa, which is set aside for victims of mental or physical abuse who are helpful in an investigation.

Stina Sieg was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2013 to 2018.