Justice for immigrant mother facing sexual abuse and retaliation in Waco Detention Center!
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Estela Briceno Fajardo- a well-know Waco business owner and mother of four- has been languishing in Waco's Jack Harwell Detention Center for two years without a day in court. This nightmare began when Estela, a trusting person who always helps people in need, unknowingly purchased stolen goods from who she believed was a family in need. However, Ms. Fajardo has stood her ground and resisted the pressure to accept a plea deal, even though it has meant prolonged separation from her newborn baby son. Estela's infant was exclusively breastfed at the time of her arrest and he faced severe trauma and separation anxiety. He is now three years old and has not touched his mom in three years; they've only visited through a computer screen. Due to the negligence of a corrupt attorney, as well as McLennan County's ramped-up participation in 28(g) or "SComm", Estela has not seen due process and in fact has faced sexual abuse and harassment in the Jack Harwell Detention Center.
Ms. Fajardo is a familiar, trusted name in Waco. She has resided here with her four children (US citizens age 3, 14, 16, and 21) since the age of 16. (Over 30 years!) She is a self-made business woman who has contributed extensively to the business sector, nonprofit organizations, the 2 large church congregations that she is a member of, and several civic groups that she eagerly participates in. However, because of her immigration status that was continuously sabotaged and leveraged by an abusive ex husband, ICE placed a hold on her upon arrest.
McLennan County has voluntarily chosen to honor this ICE detainer which has left Ms. Fajardo (and others like her) vulnerable to the exploitation and abuse of corrections officer who is supposed to keep order and peace. Instead, she has been harassed and tormented, now prescribed to anti-depressants and anti-psychotics while in the Sheriff's custody. Estela was an energetic, active member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and many other key organizations in Waco. Her teenagers were forced to leave their schools, friends, and life here to relocate to a city and parent they hardly know. Their grades and their mental health have suffered. This has broken down Estela's spirit, has ripped apart her family, and now, it is threatening her life.
After learning of the exploitative, dishonest practices of her previous attorney, Estela's family reached out to the Waco Immigrants Alliance. They have secured new legal representation and although it does look bright on the criminal justice side, her immigration status has repeatedly been sabotaged and exploited by her abusive ex-husband. Due to his vindictive manipulation that included control of her immigration papers, she is now facing rapid deportation when her criminal case is closed. However, with Prosecutorial Discretion issued by ICE, Estela will be able to pursue a U-Visa and begin her long, hard journey toward healing. She cannot do so while she remains incarcerated without trial, in the suffocating environment where she was abused, and on the property where her abuser is still employed.
The Harwell detention center has an extensive rap sheet that includes: poor medical care and unfit living conditions reported by visiting attorneys, improper sexual conduct and possession of prohibited substances by guards, medical negligence resulting in suicide and falsification of related records, sexual assault by officers, guards orchestrating inmate fights, guards engaging in sex acts with inmates, and even more sexual assault. Time and again, the Jack Harwell Detention Center owned by McLennan County and run by LaSalle Corrections has proven to be nothing more than a corrupt facility that exposes vulnerable people to abuse and exploitation, and where LaSalle staff operate with little to no oversight or accountability.
Ms. Fajardo is now facing incredible covert acts of hostility inside the McLennan County Jail, under conditions that have re-traumatized her again and again. Recently, she was erroneously given the wrong medications TWICE after she informed the jail nurse that they were not her medications THREE times. It was on her chart that she was allergic to these. This rendered her violently ill, causing prolonged vomiting, diarrhea, and fainting due to weakness. She fell and hit her head on metal table and after a month, has finally received a CT scan; we await the results. She developed welts the size of oranges all over her body and has been sick for weeks after. And the McLennan County jail had the audacity to issue her a bill for the medical costs to see a doctor to save her life.
What's more, as an intimidation tactic, Estela received a phony write-up for "receiving sexual notes from another inmate." The guard who wrote her up was instructed to do so by Investigator King - the same person in charge of the investigation into Estela's assault. Detective King was an eye witness to the interaction where a different inmate received the kited note from a companion and took it from a guard; yet Detective King still insisted that Estela needed to be written up. It was only after four inmates wrote testimony vouching that Estela was innocent (including the person who the note was intended for) that the case against her was dropped. This behavior is unacceptable.
After our press conference on June 11, 2018, Chief Deputy Kilcrease at the McLennan County Sheriff's Dept informed Estela's attorney that her case would be reopened and the witnesses to her assault and harassment would be interviewed. The only action they have taken since then is to pull Estela into an interrogation without her attorneys present, and intimidate and coerce her into writing coached statements such as "I was not sexually assaulted." Additionally, as Estela walked into a visit with her attorney on July 3, 2018, guards took Estela's constitutionally protected, private Legal documents from her Legal envelope and read them entirely. This is intolerable and unlawful. WE SAY, "NO MORE."
THEREFORE- Today we the People insist the F.B.I. and Texas Rangers promptly launch an investigation into Estela's case. We demand that ICE grant Prosecutorial Discretion to Estela Briceno Fajardo. We call forth our elected officials (Bill Flores, Beto O'Roarke, Joaquín Castro, and John Cornyn (among others) to submit an Inquiry into this matter and use their influence to advocate for Estela's vindication and release. And we insist that the McLennan County cease the destructive practice of hiring private companies to run our local facilities. Ms. Fajardo is a strong and brave woman; however, she is indeed a victim in every definition of the word, and she should not be punished for speaking out about her assault, for refusing to plead out to a crime she did not commit, and for escaping violence and physical trauma in Mexico and contributing to the strong fabric of the Waco community.
#FreeEstella #BringEstelaHome #WacoIsWatching
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