Denton County Juvenile Detention Officer Arrested for Sexual Assault of Child

Earlier this month, a 25-year-old Denton County juvenile detention officer was arrested after she allegedly sexually assaulted a minor, authorities say.

The Little Elm woman, Natalie Guadalupe Castilleja, faces two counts of sexual assault of a child, jail records show. She was arrested on Oct. 8 and taken to the Denton County Jail but posted bonds totaling $60,000 the following day.

Matt Marick, director of the county’s juvenile detention center, told the Denton Record-Chronicle that his department filed a report that included one accuser. Marick, who is also the center’s chief juvenile probation officer, said Castilleja was put on administrative leave after the allegations surfaced, and she later resigned.

“We’re only going to report [allegations] if it’s in fact someone under our supervision or in our custody or that reports to us,” Marick said, according to that outlet. “If we have a child that comes in, reporting to probation, and they see their officer and make some allegation, then we have to report that.”

Castilleja became a juvenile supervision officer in January and worked her last day Sept. 21, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle. Marick had to file a report with county law enforcement and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD).

Calls to Marick and the Denton County Sheriff’s Department weren’t returned.

Brian Sweany, TJJD’s communications director, told the Observer that Castilleja was put on a temporary suspension order at the end of September, ahead of her arrest.

When a case like this occurs, Sweany said, local authorities are “absolutely required” to call TJJD’s abuse hotline to notify investigators at the state level, triggering both a local investigation and one from the Office of the Inspector General.

Similar allegations statewide have prompted action by the U.S. Justice Department, which last week announced an investigation into conditions in five of Texas’ juvenile correctional facilities. Among other issues, investigators will look into whether the state is doing enough to protect children from physical and sexual abuse and whether detainees receive proper mental health care.

In a statement, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said the investigation will make sure that kids in juvenile facilities are treated in a way that “comports with constitutional standards.”

“Too often children held in juvenile detention facilities are subject to abuse and mistreatment, and deprived of their constitutional rights,” Clarke said. “State officials have a constitutional obligation to ensure reasonable safety for children in these institutions.”

Sexual abuse in juvenile detention centers is also a problem nationwide.

Three years ago, 2,467 sexual victimization allegations were reported by juvenile justice administrators — amounting to an 89% increase from 2013, according to a June report by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. More than half (52%) of allegations from 2013 to 2018 were committed by staff.

Texas’ juvenile detention centers have especially high numbers of reports of sexual abuse.

In 2018, the Justice Department found that 7% of detained juveniles nationwide had alleged sexual victimization. At one detention center in Brownwood, though, 14% of kids made such accusations; the number shot to 1 in 6 at centers in Waco and Gainesville.

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