A former Texas police officer will stand trial later this year on child sexual assault charges.
Erasmo Mata Jr. is accused of raping a 17-year-old old girl while on duty at least five times between July and October 2013 as fellow Pharr Police Department officers watched, reported The Brownsville Herald.
An attorney for the teen’s family said Police Chief Ruben Villescas tried to cover up the case after they reported the assaults by urging them not to hire an attorney.
The girl’s family has filed a lawsuit against the city, its police department and police chief, and the 25-year-old Mata – who was fired after an internal investigation found evidence of misconduct with the victim.
The city’s attorneys denied other officers witnessed the assaults or took the girl to abandoned homes throughout the city along the U.S.-Mexico border – as claimed in the lawsuit.
No other officers have been charged in the case.
The Texas Rangers launched their own investigation at the request of the family’s attorney, and the state agency turned over its findings to prosecutors this summer.
Mata was indicted July 30 on first-degree felony charges, and if he’s convicted in a trial scheduled to begin Dec. 1, the former officer faces up to 99 years in prison.