Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Salvation Army Officer Arrested - Accused Of Raping A 16 Year Old Girl

The Salvation Army officer's name is Luis Leonel Valdez.  In June, 2012 he was a youth minister for The Salvation Army in El Paso, Texas. 

Valdez took the 16 year old girl to breakfast at McDonalds.  She reported to police that the coffee she drank tasted funny.  The next thing she remembered was waking up in Valdez's bedroom.  Her pants and panties had been removed and her blouse was pulled up.  Valdez was getting dressed.  When he left the room, the young girl managed to escape and called 911.

DNA from her rape kit matched the DNA of Valdez.  When arrested, he told police that the girl was just hallucinating, or having a nightmare. He made no statement about the DNA match.

The Salvation Army has strict policies with respect to officers being alone with children.  Under no circumstances are officers aloud to take them to their homes.

Major Michael Morton, Area Commander for The Salvation Army in the El Paso area was asked about the incident.  His response;  "In this particular case, this is a very abhorrent behavior. We have a case where the individual deliberately violated our own safety checks. If someone deliberately goes out to violate the law, they will succeed. The trick is did we catch it and have we done something about it? And the answer is, yes, we did."

Really?  The Salvation Army caught it?   The police investigation indicates that the young girl escaped from Valdez and reported that she had been raped.  The Salvation Army caught nothing!  Note that Major Morton refers to Valdez as "the individual", in an attempt to distance The Salvation Army from the crime.  The individual charged with the rape of a 16 year old girl is a Salvation Army officer.  The Salvation Army's "safe from harm" policy failed.

Despite Major Michael Morton's attempts to distance The Salvation Army from the incident in question, and shed a good light on the issue as far as The Salvation Army's policy is concerned, it is not as cut and dry as Major Morton's statement indicates.  The El Paso Police Department believes there are more victims and has set up a tip line, urging potential victims to can come forward.   Again, The Salvation Army caught and prevented nothing!

Another Salvation Army spokesperson stated "The Salvation Army will reserve judgment until we see how this plays out. The officer has been suspended."

What happens to a Salvation Army officer who is suspended while The Salvation Army reserves its judgment?  What happens to the officer while The Salvation Army waits to see how it "plays out"?

Salvation Army officers live in homes owned by the organization, drive vehicles owned by the organization, enjoy full medical benefits and receive a salary.  Even though Valdez was suspended, The Salvation Army continues to financially support him, with his officers benefits.  Actually, your donations continue to support Valdez, while he awaits trial for his alleged crime.

It's unclear at this time whether, or not, The Salvation Army is paying for Valdez's defense, but the organization does have a vested interested in how it "plays out".  The Salvation Army may have some civil liability for its failure to keep a 16 year old girl safe from harm.  Again, any money spent by The Salvation Army with respect to this incident comes from your donations to the organization.

From all indications, as of today Valdez is still on The Salvation Army payroll and is still being housed by the organization.  What is outrageous about the current status of the suspended officer is where The Salvation Army has chosen to house him.

The Salvation Army owns a resort, Camp Hoblitzelle, near Midlothian, Texas, the place where Valdez is believed to be housed.  Those who are not familiar with the resort will be shocked to know that The Salvation Army conducts meetings, seminars and day camps for children at the Camp Hoblitzelle.  They even rent out the facility to other religious organizations for day camps.  Housing an alleged rapist where children are sent for day camp is beyond belief!

If this outrages you as much as it outrages me, call Major Ward Matthews, Area Commander for the Dallas Metroplex Command, 214-637-8100 and ask him why The Salvation Army is housing an alleged rapist at Camp Hoblitzelle.

Update 7-18-13.  The investigation continues with respect to other potential victims.  No trial date set at this time.  Many thanks to Channel 7 news for staying on top of the story.  If only The Salvation Army took sexual assault by one of its officers seriously.
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