McCallen, TX — A woman’s stay in jail for an alleged misdemeanor probation violation turned into a nightmare after she was repeatedly raped, on video, and the officers who saw it, covered it up and threatened to kill her if she talked.
The woman, identified in court documents as A.R., has since filed a lawsuit after the officer who raped her was sentenced to prison for official oppression.
On May 29, 2014, A.R. was picked up by La Joya police officers for a misdemeanor probation violation and booked into the La Joy City Jail. While the other officers were out on patrol, Felipe Santiago Peralez entered her cell and conducted an “all-night invasion” of her body, according to court documents.
A.R. has sued Peralez, the City of La Joya, its former and current police chiefs, its city administrator and several La Joya police officers. She also sued the City of Peñitas, its police chief, and two other officers.
“Peralez began an all-night invasion of plaintiff’s body, by inserting his fingers, hands, and other objects into her buttocks and vaginal areas of plaintiff’s body,” reads the nightmarish 38-page complaint.
A.R. says she cried in pain throughout the assault, which ended with Peralez forcing her to suck and masturbate him. She says she told two female police officers about the rape, and several other officers saw video footage of it, but each one refused to take her to an emergency room for an examination, as mandated by Texas law for all rape investigations, according to Courthouse News Service.
The complaint states: “On May 30, 2014 [defendant] Lieutenant Ramon Gonzalez reviewed the video recording, questioned plaintiff (A.R.) about the incident from the night before, obtained her statement, offered her a taco, declined her request for medical attention and released her to [defendant] Peñitas police Officer Elizabeth Garza without offering her medical attention or counseling.”
It would later be revealed that after A.R. told Garza about the incident, she would threaten her life if she told anyone else about it.
“Garza advised her that she should forget all about the incident and go on with her life, because ‘people come up missing all the time in the Valley,'” the lawsuit states.
By the end of the next day, everyone in the department had seen the video, and they all failed to act.
According to CNS, La Joya’s police chief at the time, defendant Geovani Hernandez, also saw the footage and briefed the city administrator, defendant Mike Alaniz, about it on May 30, 2014, A.R. says. She says Garza also told her boss, defendant Peñitas Police Chief Roel Bermea, about the rape and he told Garza to write a report, but did not call an ambulance for her.
A year later, once Texas Ranger Robert Garcia heard about the assault and discovered the existence of the video, Peralez was arrested.
According to CNS, a Hidalgo County grand jury charged Peralez with three counts of civil rights violations and one count of official oppression in August 2015, and he was sentenced to 180 days in state jail and 30 days in county jail after pleading guilty to official oppression and one civil rights charge, court records show.
The measly sentence highlights the level of corruption within the department and city and shows the extent to which police will go to cover up a crime of one of their own.
After the rape, A.R. says she was terrified to tell anyone about the incident as she felt her life was in danger.
“Plaintiff suffered physical pain from intrusions of her vagina and buttocks, loss of weight, concern for the well-being of her children and elderly parents, due to threats made against them by defendants if plaintiff sought recourse regarding the incident,” the lawsuit states.
In the land of the free, a woman can be repeatedly assaulted, raped, terrorized, and forced into performing various sex acts during an “all night invasion of her body” while she was in the custody of the La Joya police department for a misdemeanor probation violation, and the people who did this to her and covered it up receive little to no punishment. And some people still have the audacity to refer to this as ‘justice.’