A Texas sheriff’s deputy who was accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl and threatening to deport her mother if she ever reported the abuse has died in jail from an apparent suicide, authorities said.
Jose Nunez, 47, was discovered dead in his cell at the Karnes Correctional Center, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said Tuesday, saying the manner in which investigators discovered the body led them to believe the man had committed suicide.
Nunez, who worked as a detention officer at the Bexar County jail in San Antonio for 10 years, was being held an alternative holding facility in nearby Karnes County.
“Nothing good can come from housing one of our own deputies in our facility,” Salazar told the AP. Nunez had been held at the jail since June 17.
The Karnes County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Ranger Division were investigating the death, Sgt. Elizabeth Gonzalez told the New York Times.
Nunez was arrested on charges of super aggravated assault of a child back in June. Authorities say the assaults may have been going on for months, or even years and that Nunez had repeatedly threatened the girl’s mother, who is from Guatemala, with deportation if she reported him.
Nunez was related to the pair.
However, despite the threats, the mother eventually took the girl to a fire station to make a report about Nunez’s behavior. The four-year-old victim reportedly suffered minor injuries as a result of the abuse.
“I don’t know that he was purposely targeting the undocumented community,” Salazar said. “Certainly what was appealing was the vulnerability of that community because they are less apt to report things.”
Nunez’s arrest occurred while a growing number of illegal immigrant parents were separated from their children at the border as part of the Trump administration’s fight against illegal immigration.
Salazar said the investigation into Nunez will continue, despite the man’s death saying that authorities want to know if there were other assault victims. The mother, who is in the United States legally on a work permit, has remained in the area with her daughter while police complete their review.