CHICAGO (CBSDFW.COM) - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says a man who prosecutors allege sexually assaulted a 3-year-old girl in the stall of a Chicago McDonald's restroom should have been turned over to the agency last year.
Christopher Puente, 34, is charged with one count of predatory criminal sexual assault. Cook County prosecutors said he confessed to detectives that he'd placed the child on his lap while he was in a restroom stall, pulled off her pants, and covered her mouth when she started calling out "daddy daddy."
At Puente's bond hearing on Thursday, prosecutors said the child was at the McDonald's around 8 a.m. Monday with her father and her brother, when her brother had an accident.
The father took both children to the restroom, taking his son into a stall while his daughter waited just outside in the restroom, according to prosecutors. Puente, who was in the next stall, lured the girl into his stall while her dad was preoccupied, pulled her into his lap, pulled down her pants and underwear, and sexually assaulted her.
Prosecutors said, when the girl started whimpering, Puente covered her mouth with his hand. When her father heard her cries, he tried to open the locked stall, then looked over and under the door, and grabbed his daughter's legs to pull her out.
Her father then took the girl and her brother out to his wife, and returned to the restroom, where Puente was still sitting in the locked stall, according to prosecutors. When he went back to check on his daughter, Puente fled the scene.
Puente was arrested two days later, after police released surveillance images of him leaving the McDonald's. Prosecutors said he was seen on surveillance video entering the restroom before the victim, and leaving after her father took her back to her mom.
This latest incident is far from the first for the Mexican citizen, according to ICE.
Puente has a long criminal history that includes two felony convictions for forced-entry burglary (2011 and 2017) and forgery (2012).
In December of 2014, border agents encountered the convicted aggravated felon at the Brownsville, Texas, border crossing. Puente claimed he was a U.S. citizen and presented a birth certificate. But he was subsequently charged with falsely claiming citizenship and served a notice to appear before an immigration judge. On March 30, 2017, an immigration judge ordered Puente removed, in absentia, as he failed to show up for his immigration hearing.
Then in June 2019, ICE lodged an immigration detainer with the Chicago Police Department on Puente, who has several felony convictions and a prior removal, after he was arrested for theft.
"How many more victims must there be before lawmakers realize that sanctuary policies do not protect the innocent?" asked Robert Guadian, field office director of Chicago Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). "Puente should have been in ICE custody last year and removed to his home country. Instead, irresponsible lawmaking allowed him to walk free and prey on our most vulnerable."
On Feb. 20, 2020, ICE filed an immigration detainer with Cook County Jail after Puente's sexual assault arrest.
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