Refugee group home caretaker accused of sexual abuse

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A 28-year-old caretaker at a U.S. Department of Human Services group home for refugees has been charged with sexual abuse after prosecutors claim he had sexual contact with a teenage resident.

Jose Cerda is accused of touching the buttocks of a 16-year-old resident lying on a couch at the home in the 5800 block of South Indiana Avenue on April 10, Assistant State’s Attorney Enrique Abraham said.

The girl got off the couch and started doing chores, but Cerda followed her and rubbed up against her, Abraham said. The girl pushed Cerda away and went back to the couch, where Cerda touched her buttocks again, he said.

Prosecutors claim Cerda rubbed up against the teen several more times that night and eventually went to lie in her bed.

Later that night, Cerda went into the girl’s room, kissed her and asked her to watch a movie on the living room couch, Abraham said. The two had sexual contact on the couch and then the girl eventually ran to her room, he said.

The girl told a friend and counselor the next day, and Cerda was asked to leave the home, Abraham said.

After being asked to leave the home, Cerda went on a planned vacation out of the country, his lawyer said. He was arrested May 30 upon his return and charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Cerda was born and raised in Chicago, graduated from Farragut Career Academy in 2004 and has “substantial contacts with the community,” his lawyer said.

Cerda was sentenced to one year’s probation for a felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon conviction eight years ago, authorities said.

On Monday, Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil ordered Cerda held on $50,000 bail and said he is to have no contact with children except his own.

He will be back in court June 23.

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