Monday, August 20, 2018
Public safety

Youth care worker accused of sex acts with teen at Tampa facility

TAMPA — A youth care worker assigned to a Florida Department of Juvenile Justice facility in Tampa is being investigated after allegations that she exchanged sexual favors with a teenage boy there.

The worker, Viviana Hernandez-Trejo, was employed by G4S Security, a private company that manages the moderate-risk Riverside Academy, where the boy is a resident.

A search warrant affidavit, filed Friday in Hillsborough Circuit Court, details the investigation into assertions that Hernandez-Trejo, 34, engaged in sex acts with the boy.

It notes a violent struggle she engaged in with a police detective investigating the claims that ended with Hernandez-Trejo breaking an arm.

Though Hernandez-Trejo has not been charged with a crime, she is no longer employed with G4S, a company spokeswoman confirmed Monday.

Attempts to reach her for comment Monday were unsuccessful.

G4S Security is a worldwide company with several different units that holds contracts to help run criminal justice operations in the bay area.

Last year, one of the units — G4S Secure Solutions — came under scrutiny when a man inside a Pinellas County Jail transport van it operated died after being attacked by another man in the van.

Hernandez-Trejo worked for a different unit, G4S Youth Services of Tampa, which works with the Department of Juvenile Justice.

"The DJJ takes seriously any allegation made by youth in our care, and we expect the same from our contracted providers," a spokeswoman for the state justice department wrote in a statement Monday, adding that Hernandez-Trejo had been immediately suspended when the investigation first began. "We will continue to work with all authorities during the investigation into this matter."

According to the court affidavit, Hernandez-Trejo started work in November as a youth care worker at Riverside Academy, overseeing treatment and educational programs for some of the facility's 150 residents. In January, Hernandez-Trejo was put in charge of the boy's dormitory and became the administrator of his General Educational Development classes, the warrant affidavit states. He came to know her as "Ms. V."

He and Ms. V would "play around" after his GED classes were over, the boy told detectives. On several occasions, the boy said, he and Ms. V committed sex acts with each other. In exchange, she let him use her cellphone to call and send text messages to his girlfriend, according to the affidavit.

He also told police that he used the phone to take pictures of himself, which he then uploaded to Facebook and Instagram.

On June 18, Tampa police Detective Dana Berry met with Hernandez-Trejo at her Riverview home. Hernandez-Trejo admitted to letting the teen use her phone and log on to Facebook, according to the affidavit. She said she kept the phone hidden in her bra, despite rules that prohibit employees from having personal cellphones on the grounds of the facility.

Believing the phone might contain evidence of a crime, the detective told her the phone would be seized while police awaited a search warrant, according to the affidavit. Any data stored inside could be used as evidence, the detective said.

Hernandez-Trejo initially consented, according to police, but changed her mind as Berry moved to an unmarked patrol car to get a receipt.

In the driveway, Hernandez-Trejo lifted the phone and began bashing it into the side of the detective's car, the affidavit states. The two then grappled with each other. As her five children bounded out of the house, Hernandez-Trejo yelled for them to "get the phone and destroy it," according to the affidavit.

In the struggle, Hernandez-Trejo's arm was broken. The affidavit says she was taken to Tampa General Hospital for treatment of a broken humerus.

The phone was ultimately seized by investigators, according to the affidavit.

Contact Dan Sullivan at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Tampa police Detective Dana Berry spoke with Viviana Hernandez-Trejo on June 18 at her Riverview home regarding sex allegations involving a teenage boy. A Hillsborough sheriff's detective became involved in the case only after Tampa police sought a search warrant for Hernandez-Trejo's cell phone. A story Tuesday incorrectly stated that a deputy was with Berry during the June 18 visit.

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