MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. - Immigration officers are blasting Montgomery County after the release of an alleged child molester.
48-year-old undocumented Guatemalan national Luis Fredy Hernandez Morales of Springfield, Va. is charged with inappropriately touching a young girl he is related to. Police say he molested the girl while staying at her home in Montgomery County this summer. Hernandez-Morales is active in the youth ministry at a Gaithersburg church and police believe there may be other victims.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement says it lodged a detainer with Montgomery County on Tuesday. But ICE claims that detainer was not honored and that county officials released Morales-Hernandez on bond the next day. The federal agency says it then apprehended Hernandez-Morales in Springfield, Va. on Friday.
"The best way to serve public safety is to work together," Acting ICE Baltimore Field Officer Director Frank Madrigal said in a statement. "Montgomery County had indicated they would securely transfer dangerous criminals to our custody rather than release them to the community where they can reoffend. These actions indicate they intend otherwise."
Montgomery County released Hernandez-Morales after partially rolling back its policy prohibiting ICE from the county jail. Now, the jail may allow ICE into "identified areas" of the jail to detain newly-released inmates if ICE officers arrive before the release. The county said it made the change "to ensure that transfers are conducted in a safe environment."
When asked why Hernandez-Morales was released without notifying ICE first, a spokesman for Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said the county doesn't have a detainer policy.
"So when individuals are finished processing for release, we follow the decision of the Attorney General that we can't hold an individual, for any reason, once they have been cleared for release," the spokesman, Barry Hudson, said in a statement. "That is what happened in this case."