PHOENIX – Workers won't face charges after they were seen on video dragging and shoving immigrant children at a privately run shelter in Arizona, authorities said Friday.
Prosecutors in Maricopa County said there's no reasonable likelihood of proving the workers committed a crime at the now-shuttered Southwest Key facility near Phoenix.
Prosecutors said none of the three children sustained physical injuries; there was no evidence of intent to injure the children; and they didn't share any feelings with investigators of being ill-treated.
"Ultimately, prosecutors did not have evidence to prove that any use of force was unreasonable to gain compliance or to establish that the physical health and emotional well-being of the children had been placed in danger," the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said in a statement.
The incidents occurred in September and were investigated by the sheriff's office, which initially didn't recommend that charges be filed but later reversed course when the Arizona Republic newspaper obtained the videos.
Texas-based Southwest Key spent most of last year under criticism in Arizona after a series of investigations into abuse of children in its care. The company was eventually forced to shut down two facilities, including the one where the treatment was videotaped.
"Today's news is an important step forward as we resume our work in Arizona," said Geraldo Rivera, vice president for immigrant children's services at the nonprofit. "I'm proud of the progress we've made together in the last few months."
The videos are blurry but show staffers dragging three children on the ground and shoving a boy against a door.
In one video, a staffer is seen sitting at a conference room table, fidgeting with her hair, while another drags a child into the room. The treatment continued even after the child fell to the ground.
The shelter, known as Hacienda del Sol, held immigrant children who came to the U.S. without a parent or in some cases were separated from family.