I-Team: Man deported 3 times now faces charge of sexually assaulting a child

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CLEVELAND — The FOX 8 I-Team has found a man thrown out of the U.S. three times somehow made it back here again, and he now faces a charge of sexually assaulting a child in Cleveland.

Felony sex charges are pending in Cuyahoga County Court against Antonio Barrera.

The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency says Barrera was deported to Mexico three times between 2007-2008.

Last December, Cleveland police say he sexually assaulted a child on the city’s east side. Investigators say the victim was a relative.

Thursday, the victim’s mother told the I-Team she walked in on the attack. She told us Barrera had been living there with relatives and working at a factory. And, his past was no secret.

The victim’s mother said, “Yes, we all knew he didn’t have papers.”

The I-Team has also obtained handwritten letters sent to the court signed with the name Antonio Barrera. He doesn’t speak English. But the letters are written in English. One asks for drug treatment instead of prison. The other asks for a trial. Both talk about Mexico.

One letter says, “I want to take my case to a jury trial then go home to Mexico, no more under the tunnels.”

Judge Nancy Russo is handling the case of the sex crimes. At a hearing Thursday, she wondered why the court is getting those neatly-written letters from a man who doesn’t speak English. A defense attorney had to translate for Barrera, and he said Barrera did not know the name of the person who wrote the letters.

This case comes to light as debate rages nationwide over what to do about America’s borders with people coming through illegally. Yet, the I-Team contacted various federal agencies, and we were told most immigration records are not public.

Judge Russo won’t even consider those letters. And records show talks about a possible guilty plea.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency will take custody of Barrera after the local case although he could also face federal charges for coming back into the country after being deported.

The sex assault victim’s mother said, “I want him to serve time and not just walk away free.”

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