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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal

Lawsuit Filed in Response to Several Sexual Assaults in Deportation Jail

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Via The Law Offices of Matthew J. Archambeault, Esq.:


The Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project and attorney Matthew J. Archambeault announce today they have filed suit against the Berks County Residential Center, its Executive Director and a former guard, among others, in response to several sexual assaults committed by a former guard, Daniel Sharkey, against a woman refugee from Honduras formerly detained at the facility as a result of the Obama Administration’s ramped up family detention program.

“E.D”, as she is referred to in the complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for privacy concerns, fled Honduras in the spring of 2014 with her 3 year old son due to domestic sexual violence. “E.D” and her son’s journey to the U.S. resulted in their detention at the Berks County Residential Center (BCRC), while they were in the custody of Immigration andCustom’s Enforcement.

The BCRC houses families, mostly from Central America, who fled to the US seeking asylum BCRCis a secured facility which houses approximately 90 persons, both adults and children. The BCRCemploys guards to oversee the detainees and to monitor their movements. Immigration detainees are not permitted to leave the facility, and immigration detention centers frequently operate similar to jails and prisons. BCRC is contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

When E.D. arrived to BCRC, guard Daniel Sharkey began the process of “grooming” E.D., initiating a pattern of sexual abuse that culminated in two sexual assaults in the main women’s bathroom during late afternoon and early evening hours. These attacks were witnessed by at least one of the child detainees housed at the facility. Daniel Sharkey has recently pled guilty to institutional sexual assault against E.D. and is currently serving six to twenty three months in jail.

These incidents took place in the middle of the day, in an area well-traveled by both detainees and staff. The complaint alleges that Diane Edwards, the Executive Director of the BCRC, oversaw an environment where guard Sharkey felt empowered to be able to commit these sexual assaults in such a public area.

E.D. and her three year old son spent close to 8 months in detention, which means Sharkey might spend less time in jail than E.D. spent in comparable jail-like conditions for seeking asylum. Matthew Archambeault, E.D.’s immigration attorney, first learned of the sexual assaults in October of 2014 and immediately and repeatedly requested that ICE release her and her son from the facility where she had been subjected to the sexual abuse. All of these requests were denied. It was not until the conclusion of her immigration hearing in December, shortly before Christmas, that ICE agreed to release E.D.and her son.

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Updated 06-10-2016 at 01:29 PM by MKolken


  1. Nolan Rappaport's Avatar
    Matthew, it would be helpful if you provided some objective information about this situation instead of just posting a press release.

    According to the press release, the complaint alleges that a guard named Daniel Sharkey committed a number of sexual assaults on a woman known as ?E.D.? for privacy reasons. Has Sharkey been prosecuted for the alleged assaults? If so, has there been a conviction? Aren?t people accused of a crime still innocent until proven guilty? And if he has not been prosecuted, it would be interesting to know why. That would seem to suggest that the allegations can?t be substantiated in criminal proceedings.

    I found this statement on the Berks County Residential Center?s website, ?The Berks County Residential Center has a zero tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse/assault. Any suspected, observed or reported sexual activity must be reported immediately to the onsite Supervisor for further action.?

    Was that done in this case? If so, what was the Center?s response. For that matter, has a complaint been filed with ICE, and if so what was ICE?s response?

    If Sharkey did sexually assault E.D., he has committed a crime and should be punished accordingly. But I don?t see what is accomplished by publicizing the allegations in a complaint that was just filed without providing any background information to put the allegations into context.
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