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Report claims thousands of migrant children were sexually abused while in US custody

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Staggering numbers

GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images

A new Axios report reveals that there have reportedly been more than 5,000 reports of sexual abuse involving migrant children since 2014.

The incidents reportedly took place while the children were in the custody of the United States.

What are the details?

Axios, citing U.S. Department of Health and Human Services documents, reported that at least 4,556 sexual abuse allegations were reported to the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Approximately 1,303 allegations were sent to the Department of Justice.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) released the documents on Tuesday.

What are the allegations?

The allegations vary in severity, according to the report.

Some allegations include facility housing staff touching the genitals of minor children, showing the children pornography, and kissing children without permission.

Other allegations included child-on-child sexual abuse.

Some of the incidents occurred in the period between 2014 and 2016, prior to President Donald Trump taking office.

One incident reportedly took place in 2016 when a male child detained at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in Virginia said that a staffer reportedly grabbed his crotch area after physically restraining the child.

Also in 2016, a staffer Southwest Key Estrella Del Norte facility in Arizona reportedly touched a male child's genitals.

What are people saying about this?

In a statement, Deutch said, "These HHS documents detail a staggering number of sexual assaults on unaccompanied children in their custody. Clearly [the Trump] administration is not equipped to keep these children safe inside their facilities."

Caitlin Oakley, who is a spokesperson for Health and Human Services, said that the children's safety is the department's top priority.

"These are vulnerable children in difficult circumstances, and ORR fully understands its responsibility to ensure that each child is treated with the utmost care," Oakley said. "When any allegations of abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect are made, they are taken seriously and ORR acts swiftly to investigate and respond."

According to the report, the number of allegations may be even higher than what has already been reported.

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