A 4-year-old girl cried out to her mother over the weekend near San Antonio, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said Sunday during a news conference.
Salazar described the case involving one of the department's own deputies as "heartbreaking, disturbing, disgusting, and infuriating all at the same time".
Nunez, who was off duty at the time of his arrest, is accused of inappropriately touching the young girl's genitals on numerous occasions causing "at least some indication of minor injury" at her residence. The sheriff added that the abuse from Nunez likely persisted for months, if not years, and that there may be other victims.
Nunez allegedly blackmailed the girl's mother, taking advantage of her undocumented status to "place the mother in fear that she would be deported" if she reported the alleged assaults, Salazar said. If convicted, the charge Nunez faces carries a minimum sentence of 25 years.
"That's always a concern in the undocumented community", Salazar said. He is charged with super aggravated sexual assault, a charge applied when the victim is less than six years old.
He was arrested early on Sunday morning after the girl's mother sought help from a local fire department. "We are filling out paperwork with this witness in question to make sure that she is given protected status pending the outcome of this case".
Nunez has been placed on administrative leave, during which 10 days are paid, Salazar said, adding that he intends to "separate" him from the agency as soon as possible. "Certainly what was appealing was the vulnerability of that community because they are less apt to report things". "It's just important that [undocumented immigrants] feel comfortable enough to give us a call and report the crime".
"Victim of a crime or a witness to a crime to please come forward and report it. If you break the law, you are going to jail", Salazar said.
The identities of the child and her mother were not released by law enforcement. The sheriff said authorities believe Nunez is related to the child victim.