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Noe Aleman surrendered Monday to authorities in El Paso, ready to serve his six-month term in federal prison. According to prosecuting attorney Johnny Sutton, Aleman’s crime was that he lied in his attempt to adopt his wife’s three nieces from Mexico.

In a statement posted on his U.S. attorney’s website, Sutton expressed his outrage: “As a Border Patrol agent, Mr. Aleman was entrusted to uphold U.S. immigration laws, not break them.”

This is an odd statement, especially when we reflect that Sutton’s office did nothing when presented evidence by Texas Ranger Brian Burzynski that male superintendents at the Texas Youth Commission penal institution at the West Texas State School in Pyote, a town in Sutton’s El Paso district, were regularly sodomizing the underage male inmates under their care.


In the Texas Youth Commission scandal, Sutton’s office declined prosecution.

On July 8, 2005, Bill Baumann, an assistant U.S. attorney in Sutton’s office wrote Ranger Burzynski a letter declining prosecution on the argument that under 18 U.S.C. Section 24, the government would have to demonstrate that the boys subjected to sexual abuse sustained “bodily injury.” Bauman wrote, “As you know, our interviews of the victims revealed that none sustained ‘bodily injury.’”

Baumann’s remarkable letter was worthy of being drafted by the NAMBLA, the North American Man/Boy Love Association. He questioned whether the supervisors involved had used violence to force the underage boys to participate in their sexual acts.

The letter went so far as to suggest the victims may have willingly participated in, or even enjoyed, the acts of pedophilia involved: “As you know, consent is frequently an issue in sexual assault cases. Although none of the victims admit that they consented to the sexual contact, none resisted or voiced any objection to the conduct. Several of the victims suggested that they were simply ‘getting off’ on the school administrator.”

So, Sutton has selective outrage. He decides to prosecute because a Border Patrol agent lied in trying to adopt three young girls, but his office suggests the minor children being abused in the Texas Youth Commission may have enjoyed the sexual perversion visited upon them by their supervisors.

Yet, Sutton did not hesitate to raise sexual questions about Aleman. On July 20, 2005, Louie Gilot of the El Paso Times wrote that government officials became interested in Aleman’s adoption because of accusations made against him by two Guatemalan women who charged in 1996 Aleman had sexually abused them.

Gilot wrote that assistant U.S. prosecutor Debra Kanof testified in court July 13, 2004, saying, “I have some concerns about Aleman having exposure to the girls and about why he brought these women or young – whatever they are – into his home.”

Aleman denies these charges, just as he denies the insinuations of the investigators who questioned the girls without legal counsel present that Aleman’s motive in adopting them was to give him ready access to sexually abusing them.

In the Ramos-Compean case, Sutton’s office spread a smear that agent Ramos had beaten his wife. Somehow, for Sutton, this made more understandable that Ramos fired his weapon illegally at a fleeing Mexican illegal drug smuggler.

What place do these cheap shots against the accused have in the targeting of Border Patrol agents by a prosecutor like Sutton who wants the public to see him as a standard bearer of truth and justice?

One overlooked reality of this Aleman case is that he and his wife did adopt the children, and the adoption proceedings have not been overturned by Aleman’s conviction.

The El Paso Times quoted Aleman as telling U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone before sentencing: “I deeply apologize for this mess. I should have done more research on international adoption. I wanted to give our three adopted daughters a better life, things that people in this country take for granted, like going to school, seeing a movie at the theater, new clothes and to have a father, someone to protect them and watch over them.”

Is there a political motive behind Sutton’s decision to prosecute?

Going after the pervert supervisors at the Texas Youth Commission would have embarrassed the administration of Republican Gov. Rick Perry, something Sutton with his close ties to George W. Bush may have wanted to avoid. But prosecuting Aleman only involved going after another Border Patrol agent, something arguably in accord with a Bush administration desire to back law enforcement off the border.

Either way, Sutton’s office stands proudly behind the criminal conviction of a Border Patrol agent whose crime at worst was to accept bad legal advice and to lie.

In the Texas Youth Commission case, by declining prosecution, Sutton’s office arguably allowed the sexual abuse against imprisoned minors to continue for another two years, until Burzynski finally managed to break the story into the media, prompting an angry public outburst.

Sutton can rest assured Aleman will not now be sexually abusing his daughters, a charge that continues to offend Aleman and his family. Aleman’s two younger daughters have now been deported to Mexico. The family maintains that these children are now living in an orphanage south of the border. The oldest daughter returned to Mexico on her own.

Previous column:

Johnny Sutton’s unequal justice



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