Former Pharr, Texas, police officer Erasmo Mata Jr. will stand trial in December for multiple felony sexual assaults of a child. A lawsuit filed against Mata claims he sexually assaulted a minor five times while on duty as a police officer with the Pharr Police Department.
The lawsuit, filed in May, accuses Mata of assaulting the minor on five separate occasions. Other Pharr officers were allegedly aware of the assaults and stood watch while Mata raped the underaged girl.
The lawsuit was filed after the Pharr Police Department declined to press charges against Mata and the involved officers. The victim’s family claims that Pharr Police Chief Ruben Villescas instructed them not to hire an attorney and said he would discipline the officers himself. The family ignored Villesca’s request and went forward with the lawsuit.
Soon after filing the lawsuit, the family asked the Texas Rangers to investigate their claims. The Rangers found that the victim’s accusations were supported by evidence and turned the evidence over to prosecutors.
The lawsuit was originally filed against Mata, the Pharr Police Department, the city of Pharr and Police Chief Ruben Villescas. The claims against Villescas and the city of Pharr were dismissed by the court.
Both Mata and the involved officers have been terminated from posts with the Pharr Police Department. If Mata is convicted of his charges, he will spend between five and 99 years in prison. He could also be forced to pay a $10,000 fine.
As the Free Thought Project notes, non-consensual sexual misconduct is the second most common complaint filed against police officers in America.
Photo Credit: WikiCommons, Free Thought Project