Border Patrol agent arrested for child sex assault

BREWSTER COUNTY — Authorities last Friday took a Border Patrol agent into custody on charges of continuous sexual assault of a child.

In a news release Wednesday, the Big Bend Sector of Border Patrol confirmed that an off-duty agent had been arrested.

CBP takes all allegations of misconduct very seriously and does not tolerate criminal activity within its ranks,” the news release states. The Brewster County Sheriff’s Office is handling the investigation.

A spokesman for Border Patrol declined to identify the agent, citing the ongoing investigation. But on January 17 — the same day the agent was arrested — the Brewster County Sheriff’s Office arrested Michael William Barends for the same offense, according to a post on social media.

CBS7 also identified the agent as Barends. A girl in January told authorities that Barends had assaulted her more than 20 times since she was 12 years old, the outlet reported, citing an affidavit. The Brewster County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the incident.

This isn’t the first time a Big Bend-area Border Patrol agent has been charged with sexually abusing children. In November, authorities in Brewster County arrested Garrett Morgan Smith for alleged aggravated sexual assault of a child, as The Big Bend Sentinel previously reported. In a follow-up phone call on Wednesday, a spokesman for Border Patrol said that incident was also still under investigation.

In 2017, a pair of teenage sisters from Guatemala also accused a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent stationed in Presidio of assaulting them.

The sisters said an agent had allegedly taken the sisters into a pantry before assaulting them. “I asked why, and he said, ‘For security,’” she told a reporter at the time.