SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A Texas sheriff’s deputy accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl and threatening her mother with deportation if she reported the abuse died in jail from an apparent suicide, according to authorities.
Jose Nunez, 47, was found dead in his cell at the Karnes Correctional Center, southeast of San Antonio, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said Tuesday.
Salazar declined to specify how Nunez apparently killed himself, but he said the manner of his death and evidence in the cell led investigators to conclude it was suicide.
Nunez, a 10-year veteran of the Bexar County sheriff’s office assigned to that county’s jail, was locked up at the jail in nearby Karnes County under a policy instituted by Salazar.
“Nothing good can come from housing one of our own deputies in our facility,” he said, explaining that he wants to avoid any claims of preferential treatment for some inmates and believes it’s safer to hold an incarcerated deputy elsewhere.
The company that operates the Karnes facility, The GEO Group, didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment.
Nunez was arrested in June on a charge of super aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Authorities said the assaults may have been going on for months or even years and that Nunez threatened the girl’s mother, who is from Guatemala, with deportation if she reported him. Nunez was related to the pair.
Despite the threat, the mother took the girl to a fire station to make a report.
Salazar said that even though Nunez has died, the investigation will continue to determine if there were other assault victims. The mother, who Salazar said is in the U.S. legally on a work permit, will remain in the San Antonio area with her daughter during the duration of the investigation.