Gov. Doug Ducey has ordered inspections for all 13 Southwest Key facilities in Arizona after at two shelter employees were arrested for alleged child sex crimes.
“I'm not hearing reports of major issues,” says Arizona Department of Health Services Director, Dr. Cara Christ.
Christ says her inspectors have spent nearly two weeks visiting Southwest Key sites, most of them operating as shelters. She says the inspections are in addition to checks conducted over the last few months.
“We’ve been going out since June to investigate the different allegations that have been showing up,” says Christ. “We've been out to some of these facilities a couple of times.”[RELATED: HIV-positive shelter worker in Mesa sexually abused 8 immigrant boys, authorities say]Early this month Phoenix Police confirmed the arrest of a Southwest Key care worker accused of kissing and fondling a 14-year-old girl at a Phoenix location. After that, a report by ProPublica revealed federal investigators are accusing a Mesa care worker of sexually abusing eight teen boys.[RELATED: Police arrest employee at Phoenix migrant holding facility for sex abuse of 14-year-old]
Court records show the suspect is HIV positive.
State Rep. Kelli Butler says she’s drafting legislation to beef up oversight of Southwest Key facilities. She want to require Southwest Key officials to report criminal activity to AZDHS in addition to law enforcement.
“We’re working on legislation to try to close that loophole and make sure the Department of Health knows when these allegations are made,” says Butler. “They need to know.”
Dr. Christ expects to receive a report on the inspectors’ findings by the end of next week. After Southwest Key is notified of any violations, the contractor will have a chance dispute them.
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