Feb 26, 2019

Axios PM

1 big thing: Sexual abuse on our watch

Thousands of unaccompanied minors (UACs) were allegedly sexually abused in U.S. custody, a problem that predates President Trump but which reached new heights in 2018.

  • Earlier today: House Democrat Ted Deutch released government reports showing thousands of reports of sexual abuse, Axios' Caitlin Owens, Stef Kight and Harry Stevens report.
  • Allegations against staff members included everything from rumors of relationships with UACs to showing pornographic videos to minors to forcibly touching minors’ genitals.
  • "Together, these documents detail an environment of systemic sexual assaults by staff on unaccompanied children," Deutch said at a House hearing.
Expand chart
Data: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services; Note: The type of perpetrator is only known for cases ORR reported to DOJ; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

A sampling of the allegations, flagged by Stef:

  • Twice in 2014, a youth care worker at a nonprofit migrant child shelter reportedly offered one of the children in their care a pair of shoes in exchange for fondling the minor's genitals. The case was not investigated.
  • There were multiple allegations of pornographic images being shown to minors, forced kissing and groping of private areas.
  • Many reports were of inappropriate relationships between caretakers and minors, including one instance where the mother of the UAC reported that her son had been messaging a worker over social media and text.

Department of Health and Human Services statement to Axios: “These are vulnerable children in difficult circumstances, and [Office of Refugee Resettlement] fully understands its responsibility to ensure that each child is treated with the utmost care. When any allegations of abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect are made, they are taken seriously and ORR acts swiftly to investigate and respond."

The bottom line: These documents suggest that sexual abuse allegations are a systemic issue within the agencies tasked with caring for migrant minors, Caitlin notes.

  • The ongoing volume of these allegations indicates that HHS and DOJ have been aware of the problem, but unable or unwilling to crack down on it.

Go deeper: Read documents that detail the allegations

Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

In this combination of four separate photos, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures with her hands while visiting the new Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine.

  • The new center, located in the center of Berlin, brings together researchers from all over the world to advance the science of personalized medicine.
2. What you missed
  1. Michael Cohen is expected to present evidence tomorrow of alleged "criminal conduct" by Trump during his time as president. Go deeper.
  2. Fiat Chrysler announced a $4.5 billion investment plan in Detroit, a move that would open 2 new plants and add 6,500 jobs to the city and its surrounding areas. Go deeper.
  3. North Carolina Republican Mark Harris won't run again in the House election tainted by ballot fraud. Go deeper.
  4. Three top strategists left Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign, including the chief strategist of his 2016 White House bid, due to creative differences, reports the NY Times' Jonathan Martin.
  5. A judge ruled that AT&T’s merger with Time Warner can stand, defeating anti-trust regulators and reaffirming an earlier ruling that allowed the companies to merge.
  6. Drug companies who cheered the Trump administration's proposed crackdown on industry middlemen hedged this morning when asked whether that plan would cause them to lower their prices. Details.
3. 1 🚨 thing

"If two New York City lawmakers get their way, the long, droning siren from police cars, fire trucks and ambulances that has been part of the city’s soundtrack for generations ... would be replaced by a high-low wail similar to what’s heard on the streets of London and Paris," AP reports.

  • The difference: "WAAAAAhhhhhhh" vs. "WEE-oww-WEE-oww-WEE-oww," the AP notes.
  • "Their reasons for the switch: The European-style siren is less shrill and annoying and contributes less to noise pollution."
  • "'Europeanizing' New York sirens would not change the decibel level — still topping out at roughly 118 — but would lower the frequency and thus make the sirens less shrill but still ear-catching enough to grab attention."

Compare the two sounds: NYC vs. European style