An Oklahoma City man has been accused of molesting the 5-year-old daughter of an immigrant family, KFOR-TV reports.
Jose Alcides Benites, aged 59, was arrested after law enforcement was called to his home this past Thursday. Shortly after, he was booked into the Oklahoma County jail on charges of indecent and lewd acts.
According to an Oklahoma City police officer, the mother was at Benites’ home when she peered through a crack in a door. To her horror, she saw the accused inappropriately touching her daughter, with his hands underneath the young girl’s clothing.
Police reports detail that the mother testified to knocking on the door before entering, where she saw Benites quickly retracting his hand back from the girl, acting as if nothing had taken place.
Instead of contacting police immediately, the woman first reached out to her pastor. Later, the woman told law enforcement that she was concerned about her and family’s immigration status, and was worried that involving the police could result in immigration troubles for her and her two children.
The family, who is originally from Honduras, have not had their identities publicly detailed, presumably for fear of any backlash from United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
— KFOR (@kfor) July 3, 2018
Similarly, law enforcement is not commenting on the immigration status or identity of the family. According to police reports, the woman and her two children (aged 5 and 7) had made plans to travel to New York City in an attempt to meet up with family. Unfortunately, the children’s mother lost contact, and in turn, answered an online advertisement set up by Benites, who claimed he was willing to help immigrants and children by providing shelter, with his home acting as a safe haven. Before he was arrested, the family had been staying with Benites for approximately four months.
Cynthia Garcia, the deportation defense director for Dream Action Oklahoma, weighed in on the matter.
“Overall, I would say the community feels a lot of fear. Particularly because of how unhumanitarian the treatment is for the undocumented and the immigrant community as well.”
Garcia also commented on how immigrant families are prone to exploitation and harassment, as they view law enforcement as a liability, fearing that it will lead to deportation.
“I think, regardless of her legal status, she’s here protecting her kids, so as much as that puts her in a pickle, she has to speak up for that. And the only way she’s going to be able to do that is she doesn’t allow someone to take advantage of that situation.”
Benites was released from Oklahoma County jail this past Sunday, after posting $15,000 for bail.