Ex-charity worker accused of indecency with child

August 29, 2011 9:24:19 AM PDT
A former Catholic Charities worker is accused of indecency with a child, and the boy involved says the worker threatened not to give financial help to his family if he told anyone.

The man in question worked at Catholic Charities until 2009. He is currently working for another county agency, but is not yet under arrest, so we went looking for the man wanted by authorities.

In 2007 while working at Catholic Charities, prosecutors say Carlos Valera sexually assaulted an 11-year-old Cuban refugee whose family was receiving help from the charity.

"The defendant would call the victim to his office and ask if he wanted some candy," said assistant district attorney Tolu Omodele. "The victim would go into his office, and the defendant would grab his hand."

We went looking for Carlos Valera on Thursday. Near his home, neighbors were unaware of the investigation.

"It's surprising," said neighbor Alisha Houston-Rhoads. "It's concerning, considering it's just a couple of doors down."

So we went to Valera's current job, as a mental health case worker in Fort Bend County. We found him in his office so we knocked on the door. It turns out he was meeting with his current boss, telling his boss of his legal troubles.

Fort Bend County Mental Health Public Defender Roderick Glass told Eyewitness News, "Unfortunately I can't let you talk to him at the moment. I just found out about it two minutes ago, that's why I was in his office. I'll have to call human resources and then we'll decide what to do after that."

With Valera still on his current job, we contacted his former employer. In a statement Catholic Charities says it was made aware of a potential problem two years ago.

    "Catholic Charities is aware of criminal allegations made today in Houston against a former employee of this organization. Two years ago Catholic Charities acted quickly to investigate concerns about the employee. After engaging an outside firm to independently investigate, we terminated the employee in November 2009 for violating our agency's Ethical and Personal Conduct Policy. We remain committed to safety and wellbeing of our 90,000 clients in the Greater Houston area and fully support the independent and law enforcement investigations of this matter."

Valera was hired on by Fort Bend County in early 2010. While no one knows exactly why it took so long for charges to come to light, prosecutors say Valera tried to keep the victim from speaking out.

"He threatened the victim," Omodele said. "He told him not to say anything. He told him that if he did tell anyone, that his family would no longer be assisted by the organization."

The young man and his family no longer live in the Houston area.

We spoke to Valera's current boss who explained that he is now on involuntary leave with Fort Bend County. Fort Bend County's human resources department will now have to speak with the county attorney to determine the next step.

After our story aired Thursday evening, Valera made contact with authorities and posted $20,000 bond. A court date has not yet been set.


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