New details emerge in Progreso officer’s arrest

Affidavit: Sepulveda sexually assaulted, threatened suspect with deportation

New details have been released regarding the arrest of a Progreso police officer Tuesday.

Matthew Sepulveda, 24, faces one charge of sexual assault and one charge of violating the civil rights of a person in custody. The latter charge lists the enhancement of “sexual,” jail records show.

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The arrest came after a 20-year-old man made a complaint late last month alleging Sepulveda sexually assaulted him while in custody. The Monitor does not identify victims of sexual assault.

According to a copy of the warrant issued for Sepulveda’s arrest, Sepulveda took the man into custody after making a traffic stop at approximately 10:30 p.m. on June 28.

Sepulveda told the man he was under arrest for not having a driver’s license or proof of insurance, then transported him to the Progreso Police Department.

While in the jail cell, Sepulveda allegedly told the man “that he could not let him go just like that and that he had to do something,” the affidavit read.

Fearing deportation, the man offered to perform community service. Sepulveda then allegedly led the man out of the cell and toward another room, telling the man to say he was having an anxiety attack if anyone asked.

The man claims Sepulveda asked him about his sex life before directing him to turn off the lights in the room, sit in a chair and lower his shorts.

According to the affidavit, Sepulveda then allegedly performed oral sex on the man.

Afterward, the man was escorted to the police department lobby where his parents were waiting for him to be released.

When his mother asked if her son had received a fine or citation, an officer she later identified as Sepulveda told her that “everything was taken care of,” the affidavit read.

Once the family returned to their home, the man told his mother what had happened.

The family reported the incident to the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, which dispatched investigators just a few hours after the alleged sexual assault occurred, shortly before 5:30 a.m. on June 29.

Two days later — on July 1 — sheriff’s investigators executed a search warrant at the police department, where they recovered surveillance video. The footage appears to show Sepulveda arriving at the jail with the man in custody and placing him in a cell, the affidavit read.

The video further appears to show Sepulveda escorting the man from the cell to an office — where they remained for approximately 20 minutes — before escorting him back out.

During an interview with investigators, which occurred the same day the search warrant was executed, Sepulveda said he had escorted the man to the office because the man was having an anxiety attack.

“Sheriff’s investigators reviewed the video footage and observed (the man) to appear calm and to be walking with his hands in his pocket shorts,” the affidavit read.

The sheriff’s office initially released a statement Monday announcing their investigation of an incident at the police department.

In the statement, they referred to the matter as an investigation of official oppression due to officer misconduct. They also announced the FBI was assisting the investigation.

Progreso Police Chief Alberto Rodriguez declined to comment on the investigation and would not confirm whether Sepulveda was employed with the department. However, the Progress Times reported that Rodriguez had fired Sepulveda last week.

Sgt. Frank Medrano with the sheriff’s office confirmed Tuesday that Sepulveda had been employed as a Progreso police officer. Sepulveda was also previously employed at the county jail, where he had attained the rank of sergeant, according to a sheriff’s Facebook post from Nov. 15, 2017.

Sepulveda was taken into custody by the sheriff’s office Tuesday morning. He remained in custody at the county jail and bond had yet to be set as of press time Tuesday.