Protesters gathered Wednesday morning outside the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor alleging a woman had been held in solitary confinement for refusing to recant her allegation that she had been sexually assaulted by a guard.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents placed El Salvadorian immigrant Laura Monterrosa in solitary confinement at the center for 60 hours from 11 p.m. Friday to 11 a.m. Monday, saying she would only be freed from solitary if she took back her story, said Cristina Parker, a spokeswoman for Grassroots Leadership.
Grassroots Leadership is an immigrant advocacy group assisting Monterrosa in her attempt to be granted asylum in the United States.
A spokeswoman for ICE released Wednesday afternoon denying the allegation by Grassroots Leadership.
“On Feb. 9, ICE received information that Laura Monterrosa-Flores was taken to the ICE T. Don Hutto Residential Center medical unit for evaluation after staff became aware of a self-reported medical situation,” the statement said.
“Monterrosa-Flores was kept in medical for close observation. On Monday she was returned to the general population. During the time she was in medical observation, Monterrosa-Flores was in communication with her attorney. In addition, ICE offered to transfer Monterrosa-Flores to another facility but she declined the offer.”
Grassroots Leadership asked the Taylor P0lice Department to investigate the case on Wednesday, Parker said.
Taylor Police Chief Henry Fluck said he received a barrage of emails Wednesday morning with requests for an investigation. Fluck said he has forwarded to the request to the FBI, which was already investigating Monterrosa’s allegations of sexual assault.
“It’s not the role of the Taylor Police Department to investigate an alleged civil rights violation by a federal agency,” he said. Fluck said about 24 protesters were gathered Wednesday outside the detention center in Taylor. He said they were being allowed one by one to visit with Monterrosa inside the center.
Monterrosa made a report with the Williamson County sheriff’s office after authorities learned of possible assaults Nov. 3, according to Grassroots Leadership. The sheriff’s office later referred Monterrosa’s case to the FBI.