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Tennessee suspends shelter for immigrant children license following staffer arrest

Police got the complaint a month ago about an incident at 1914 Vance Avenue in Chattanooga.
Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 8:22 AM EDT
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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WVLT / AP) - Tennessee officials have suspended the license of a shelter for immigrant children after one of the employees was arrested following abuse allegations.

Police got the complaint nearly a month ago regarding an incident at 1914 Vance Avenue in Chattanooga.

On Thursday, Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Jennifer Nichols cited the abuse allegation and other issues that had plagued the Chattanooga shelter over the past month as reasons for the suspension.

Police officials say 35-year-old Randi Duarte faces charges of sexual battery by an authority figure, coercion of a witness and tampering with evidence. The shelter is run by the Baptiste Group, which did not immediately respond to questions.

Police do say that the victim, in this case, is a 16-year-old male who ran away from the facility a couple of weeks after the alleged incident. They say he has since been found, safe with his family in Guatemala.

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