Photo: USCBP

The Border Patrol has always been full of assholes. We know we shouldn't generalize. Some, we suppose, may be good people. But just in the last few months, there was the Border Patrol guy who pleaded guilty to running down a migrant with his truck, and the agent accused of raping multiple women he'd met online. Not to mention the Border Patrol agent charged with murdering four women in Laredo in 2018 -- he preyed on women he figured wouldn't be missed because they were prostitutes. And that's on top of the regular human rights violations, but that's when they're on duty.

So good news for the Border Patrol: Its latest accused isn't a serial killer, at least. But Gus Zamora, the husband of one of the agency's top commanders, was indicted by a grand jury in July for raping a female agent, who had considered him a mentor and friend. As the New York Times notes in its story on the case, the Border Patrol has a lot of difficulty recruiting and retaining women, who make up only about 5 percent of its 20,000 agents. Can't imagine why.

Zamora has been married for 20 years to Gloria Chavez, who was recently appointed as the interim chief of the Border Patrol's El Paso sector and given the job of cleaning up the sector after all the reporting on filthy, overcrowded conditions in the agency's holding facilities over the summer. Chavez was previously in charge of the El Centro section, in California, where she had the honor of being photographed with Donald Trump in April, on the day he told agents to break the law, and not to worry because he'd pardon them if they got in trouble.

Zamora allegedly had been sexually harassing the female agent, identified only in court documents as R.W., "over a series of years," she told police, but she had repeatedly turned down his advances, because could she please be allowed to do her goddamned job. Relying on police reports, the Times says Zamora had

asked her to meet on various occasions in Tucson, and had once invited her to his hotel room, she told the police. She had turned him down, she said, telling him she just wanted to be friends, but he persisted in communicating and flirting with her.

Mr. Zamora lived in El Centro, Calif., where his wife had been the sector chief, but worked in Yuma. That day in May, he had traveled from Yuma to Tucson on a Border Patrol work trip with two other agents. Mr. Zamora would often "make up reasons, such as a need to speak with someone, to justify the work trips" to Tucson to see her, R.W. told the police.

Zamora had arranged to meet her for dinner in Tucson, where they also met the woman's supervisor, Roy Villareal, the sector chief for Tucson, during part of the meal. Shortly before dinner, Zamora texted her to ask if she had "dressed up" for him, as a colleague would.

R.W. said Mr. Zamora bought round after round of tequila shots, took her back to his hotel room and sexually assaulted her.

R.W. reported being assaulted to the police on May 25, two days after the encounter. Six weeks later, in July, Mr. Zamora was indicted by a Pima County grand jury in Tucson on three counts of felony sexual assault and one felony count of kidnapping. He retired from the Border Patrol on July 31, 21 days after his arrest.

Zamora told Tucson detectives the sex was consensual and that they were both very drunk, and for that matter that R.W. had started it, which sounds just like a woman who's been fending off a harasser but finally recognizes he's a great guy.

Villareal said he was only at the restaurant for a short time, drank a single beer without finishing it, and says when he left, neither agent seemed drunk. Villareal and Zamora have been friends for about 20 years, also too. As for the drinking:

R.W. told the police she had three glasses of wine, a mixed drink and about five shots of tequila, and their waitress told investigators that Mr. Zamora appeared to be urging R.W. to drink more.

R.W. and Mr. Zamora took an Uber to his hotel. During his interview with detectives, Mr. Zamora said he had offered to give her a ride home but she said she did not want to be alone and asked to go back to his hotel.

Uh huh. For her part, R.W. told cops she was so drunk she didn't recall leaving the restaurant, and that she passed out.

She remembered waking up at times on the bed in his hotel room, but told the police she did not feel she was able to give her consent for sex. A rape kit, which preserves DNA evidence left by an attacker, was submitted to the Tucson police crime lab for testing but the results have not been made public.

Video from the hotel's security doesn't sound like evidence of a party in progress, with Zamora holding R.W.'s arm as they walked, and her falling down when he let go to open the door.

When a detective told Mr. Zamora at the end of his interview with the police that R.W. was not in a condition to consent, Mr. Zamora "said that he knows, but he wasn't in a state to consent either."

The Times also reports police recorded a phone call R.W. made to Zamora, in which she said the sex wasn't consensual. The police summary says Zamora

"told her to not go there and that it wasn't like that." He told her that sex "was never on his mind. They had too many shots," the police summary stated. Before the call ended, R.W. told him that "she thinks he was way out of line and he responded that he thinks they were both way out of line."

So let's review: A senior federal cop is accused of harassing a female colleagues for years, getting her drunk, raping and kidnapping her, and his defense is that they both got drunk and had sex, because things happen that way. Instead of firing him, the agency allowed him to retire after he was arrested. And he happens to be married to a Border Patrol bigwig.

A pretrial hearing will be held today in Arizona superior court in Tucson, and regardless of the case's eventual outcome, we suppose we should look for Zamora to be nominated to a federal judgeship.

[NYT / Texas Monthly /]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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