Mexican immigrant sexually assaulted 3-year-old girl after being released by Chicago police despite ICE warning
An immigrant from Mexico, who was released by Chicago authorities despite being warned by ICE to not let him go, went on to sexually a three-year-old girl in a McDonald's bathroom as she cried "daddy, daddy," reports state.
The man, identified as 34-year-old Christopher Puente, has been accused of sexually assaulting the child in a bathroom stall of a restaurant on 600 N. Clark St. in the River North area on February 19 at 8 am. The attack allegedly occurred when the child's father was in another stall at the eatery with her brother.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had reportedly requested the city police to continue detaining Puente, who had convictions for forced-entry burglary and forgery. Chicago police, however, declined ICE's request made in June 2019.
Puente, on the day of the attack, covered the little girl's mouth as she began whimpering "daddy, daddy." That is when her father pulled her legs from under the stall door to rescue her, according to Puente's bond hearing in Cook County.
The field office director of Chicago Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), Robert Guadian, blamed "irresponsible lawmaking" for the 34-year-old's release. "How many more victims must there be before lawmakers realize that sanctuary policies do not protect the innocent?" he said in a press release. "Puente should have been in ICE custody last year and removed to his home country. Instead, irresponsible lawmaking allowed him to walk free and prey on our most vulnerable."
ICE, in January, had reported that Cook County, which includes Chicago, denied over 1,000 detainer requests in fiscal year 2019 alone. Federal immigration enforcement request for detainers from local jurisdictions in an effort to keep immigrants in custody who have been arrested on criminal charges and are believed to be "removable" from the country.
Cook County had reportedly received criticism from then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had threatened to revoke federal funding over its sanctuary status. The Justice Department had subsequently also sent letters to other regions holding sanctuary status, including New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Milwaukee, and New York City.
Puente was apprehended by police after his images on surveillance footage were circulated through a community alert. He was eventually brought in by authorities for an unrelated criminal trespass before being linked to the sexual assault case.
Reports state that the perpetrator has admitted to investigators of putting the toddler on his lap, covering her mouth to stop her from calling for help and sexually assaulting her. Puente, who is in police custody without bail, is set to return to court on March 10, where he faces charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a victim younger than 13 years old.
The assailant has been convicted multiple times between 2006 and 2016, mainly for theft.