Hamilton County Judge Sends Migrant Youth Worker Sexual Battery Case to Grand Jury

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Three female employees of the Baptiste Group were arrested in 2021 on various charges of sexual misconduct against minors staying at their shelter for migrants in Chattanooga. Today, Randi Duarte, Rebekah Perez and Florencia Morales had an opportunity to speak before a Hamilton County Court Judge.

“These victims were all in a migrant camp here in Chattanooga off Vance Avenue. Of course that was shut down,” says Hamilton County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Coyle.

Duarte’s hearing was pushed back to March 22nd.

“She’s scared but outside of that I don’t want to say anything else about her feelings,” says Duarte’s attorney Matt Brock. Perez has COVID so her hearing was set for the same day. And Florencia Morales, who was charged with sexual battery against two minors, spoke before Judge Alex McVeagh. A witness told Judge McVeagh through an interpreter that Morales kissed him at the facility when he was 17. A minor detail that was left out was caught by the defense. The witness claims Morales kissed him twice. The defense attorney Mike Little says the witness never specified if it was on the lips.

“Judge the actual sexual contact, there’s been no testimony today that Ms. Morales kissed Mr. Toie on the lips,” says Hamilton County Public Defender Mike Little. The interpreter working with the witness says small details like this can be tricky in translation.

“You’re right. Little things like that can get lost in translation,” says Matthew Benton who is a certified Spanish court interpreter.

Judge McVeagh ruled to have Morales’s case heard by a grand jury and a second alleged victim to testify.

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News