Montgomery declines to prosecute Southwest Key abuse incidents

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery /Photo by Gage Skidmore / Flickr

By Laura Gómez | Arizona Mirror

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has declined to prosecute three cases of child abuse involving Southwest Key employees and three migrant minors because it didn’t find enough evidence to sustain criminal charges.

The incidents took place in September in a Yountown shelter and prompted the federal government to shut down that Southwest Key facility.

“All statements, evidence and reports surrounding each incident revealed none of the three children sustained any physical injuries, there was no evidence of an intent to injure the children, and the children did not share any feelings of having been ill-treated,” MCAO said in a press release.

The three incidents involved employee Michael Royce pushing a boy, bear-hugging him from behind, kicking him in the leg and hitting his body; employee Yamilette Santos dragging a seven-year-old girl by the leg to her bed; and employee Mauro Lopez grabbing a minor who was blocking the door of a classroom by the arm and pulling the minor away. All employees involved were fired, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — which contracts the migrant shelter operators — said in October.


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