Chicago police are investigating claims that multiple Chicago police officers engaged in sexual misconduct with at least one migrant sheltering at a police station on the city's West Side.
Citing law-enforcement sources, the Chicago Sun-Times first reported that one officer is accused of "impregnating a teenage girl" while multiple colleagues are also accused of additional sexual misconduct.
Chicago is one of many U.S. cities struggling to accommodate thousands of migrants being bussed from the Texas-Mexico border.
For the past few months, the city has used its police stations to house new arrivals before transferring them to city shelters.
Chicago police confirmed to Scripps News that the allegations are under investigation by two agencies.
One of the agencies, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, said in a statement that it learned of "allegations against members of the Chicago Police Department assigned to the 10th District and a migrant temporarily housed at the police station."
The statement goes on to say that, "while COPA investigators are currently determining whether the facts are substantiated, we want to assure the public that all allegations of this nature are of the highest priority."
In a video statement, the president of the local police union calls the allegations baseless.
"Stop the rumors," said John Catanzara, the president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, adding that "until there is some validity to the complaint, it is just that: A bunch of B.S."
Migrant advocates and volunteers have long complained that police stations are inadequate shelters. When Scripps News recently visited one of them, Britt Hodgen, a volunteer with the Police Station Response Team and a trauma therapist, called the conditions untenable.
The Police Station Response Team, a grassroots group of volunteers, tell Scripps News that they "have been noting the risk of sexual violence since [their] first meeting with the mayor's office" in early June. Now they want to see the city responding "with a fast and high-quality sexual violence prevention strategy" including "arming asylum seekers with Know Your Rights training."
As for Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, his administration tells Scripps News that it "remains intensely focused on the deeply troubling allegations" and that the city is in the process of fully relocating all migrants who stayed at the police station where officers are being investigated.
Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com