For Immediate Release

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Women’s Group Demands DHS Investigate Rape and Harassment at Karnes Family Detention Center in Texas

Multiple Lawsuits Accuse Karnes Detention Center Guards of Repeated Sexual Assault of Women and Children

WASHINGTON - UltraViolet, a national women’s advocacy organization, is demanding an immediate investigation by the Department of Homeland Security into accusations of rape and sexual assault of women at the Karnes Detention Center in Texas.   

According to numerous legal complaints  filed, large numbers of women report similar stories of abuse - guards who call the detainees their “girlfriends” and enter their cells late at night to rape them. Women at Karnes Detention Center, many of whom are mothers detained with their children, have also reported being groped and assaulted in front of other detainees, including their children.

In a petition signed by more than 41,200 people, UltraViolet is calling on the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights to use it’s power to investigate reports of sexual assault and rape at the Karnes County Residential Center and commit to oversight in the future.  The petition, joins calls from other organizations including - Human Rights First, the University of Texas Law School and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund in calling for a full and immediate investigation.


The Karnes County Residential Center is currently owned and operated by the GEO Group, a corporation that makes billions running private immigrant and juvenile detention centers for non-violent detainees. Since taking over 96 detention centers around the country, GEO has faced millions in lawsuits for sexual abuse of juveniles, cover-ups around detainee deaths, deplorable and unsanitary conditions, and brutal beatings at the hands of staff.

“Plain and simple, family detention is a heart wrenching and terribly destructive process that undermines important bonds between a mother and child.  The fact that that these women must on top of that endure an environment of constant rape and harassment - is plainly unacceptable,” explained Shaunna Thomas, co-founder for UltraViolet. “ The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Civil Rights cannot continue to turn a blind eye to this horrific abuse, and must immediately take steps to investigate and prevent further abuses.”


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UltraViolet is an online community of over 550,000 women and men who want to take collective action to expose and fight sexism in the public sector, private sector and the media.  Find out more at

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