Guatemalan girl says Iowa couple accused of human smuggling sexually assaulted her

Guatemalan girl says Iowa couple accused of human smuggling sexually assaulted her

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A Guatemalan migrant girl claims an Iowa couple arrested for allegedly smuggling immigrants into the U.S. locked her in a room and sexually assaulted her, according to a federal court document.

Amy Francisco and her husband, Cristobal Francisco-Nicolas, are accused of harboring Guatemalan refugees inside their Sioux City home after the girl, identified only as ABF, escaped, according to an affidavit filed by federal prosecutors Thursday in the Southern District of California.

Federal prosecutors confirmed the two were arrested in San Diego on charges of smuggling and harboring undocumented immigrants, but the case will likely be moved to a federal court in Iowa, NBC San Diego reported.

Sioux City police spoke to ABF after she was found wandering the streets on June 5 and telling people she had been sexually assaulted. During an interview, the girl told police she and her father, Fernando Bartolo-Francisco, traveled to the U.S. from Guatemala and were detained at the border. They flew to Omaha after being released from the El Paso Detention Center because of overcrowding, ABF told police.

Francisco and Francisco-Nicolas picked up the father and daughter from the airport and took them to their home, where ABF was allegedly locked in a room with a metal bed and a bucket, according to the affidavit.

“ABF then stated Cristobal raped her and that Amy watched it happen from the door to the locked room,” the document said. “After being raped five times, ABF stated that one morning Cristobal left for work and did not lock the door.”

The girl said she sneaked out of the house while Francisco was sleeping and searched for someone who spoke Spanish for assistance.

Francisco-Nicolas told police in an interview that his sister told him about Bartolo-Francisco’s desire to come to the U.S. with his daughter and then made arrangements for them. Francisco-Nicolas told police he paid someone in Guatemala through a money transfer service, according to the affidavit.

“Cristobal stated he knows he messed up and the mistake he made was receiving these people,” the affidavit said. “Cristobal requested an attorney when law enforcement began to question him about the alleged rape of ABF.”

Francisco told police in an interview that a woman named “Sofia” contacted her and asked if she could pay for tickets to bring her relatives to Nebraska. She said “Sofia” gave her cash to purchase airline tickets with her credit card.

Francisco then told police she and her husband agreed to pick up ABF and Bartolo-Francisco, then let them stay at their home, according to the affidavit.

During the interview, ABF identified Francisco as “Sofia.”

In a search of the Sioux City home, police found three other Guatemalan citizens inside, as well as Francisco’s father, Ronald Craig.

Craig told police the couple have arranged for at least 10 people to travel from Guatemala to the U.S. border, requiring that they bring a child with them.

“Upon entering the U.S., they must turn themselves in, and if released, then Cristobal and Amy will pay for them to travel by bus or plane to Sioux City, Iowa,” the document said. “In Sioux City, Cristobal and Amy provide them food, lodging, clothes, and obtain them a job.”

The migrants help pay for rent and food while living in the house, and pay back Francisco and Francisco-Nicolas for the traveling costs, Craig told police.

The three migrants found living in the couple’s home were also interviewed and confirmed they paid for rent and food, as well as the cost of smuggling them into the country.

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