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Posted on: March 29, 2019

Insufficient Evidence to Prosecute Cases Related to Children’s Shelter

PHOENIX— The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has completed a review of three cases submitted by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office involving the treatment of children at a Southwest Key shelter.

“The video evidence in this case supported a full investigation of all the surrounding circumstances,” said County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “After thoroughly reviewing and carefully assessing the context within which these events took place, along with additional evidence developed by the investigation, we have determined there is no reasonable likelihood of proving beyond a reasonable doubt the required elements of a felony offense.”

The cases were submitted to MCAO for a charging review in January of 2019. The underlying investigation involved physical contact between Southwest Key employees and three minor children who were being held at the facility in September of 2018. Prosecutors reviewed all submitted allegations to determine whether the available evidence established a criminal violation of the statutory offenses of aggravated assault and or child abuse.

All statements, evidence and reports surrounding each incident revealed none of the three children sustained any physical injuries, there was no evidence of an intent to injure the children, and the children did not share any feelings of having been ill-treated. Ultimately, prosecutors did not have evidence to prove that any use of force was unreasonable to gain compliance or to establish that the physical health and emotional well-being of the children had been placed in danger.

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