Progreso ex-cop to face federal bond hearing Thursday

McALLEN — A former Progreso police officer accused of sexually assaulting two people who were in his custody is expected to go before a federal judge Thursday for a bond and detention hearing.

Matthew Lee Sepulveda, 24, made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby on Monday morning after spending the weekend in federal lockup pending new civil rights charges in connection with the accusations.

Sepulveda stands charged with two counts of violating the civil rights of the victims while he had been “acting under the color of the law,” according to a copy of the criminal complaint against him, which was unsealed after his Friday arrest.

The complaint further reads that, “This act included aggravated sexual abuse and kidnapping.”

Sepulveda was quiet in the courtroom Monday as the judge made his way through a list of initial appearances for defendants in other cases. When asked if he would like a court-appointed defense attorney, Sepulveda responded yes.

Ormsby granted the request and remanded Sepulveda to custody pending Thursday’s hearing, when he will decide whether or not to set bond.

If convicted of the federal charges, the former police officer and Hidalgo County jailer faces up to life in federal prison; however, they are not the only criminal charges he is currently facing.

Sepulveda is also facing a spate of related charges in state district court stemming from the alleged sexual assaults, Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra said in an interview with The Monitor on Oct. 18. “The state charges are still going to be pursued. We’re not dropping the state charges; they can be parallel cases,” Guerra said.

The case against Sepulveda began when the first victim, a 20-year-old man, made an outcry in early July, alleging that Sepulveda had performed oral sex on him after taking him into custody during a traffic stop. The Monitor does not identify victims of sexual assault.

The man alleges Sepulveda threatened him with deportation, and that “he had to do something” in order for Sepulveda to let him go, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Monitor in July.

Sepulveda then allegedly took the man to the “police squad room” and performed oral sex on the man, according to the federal criminal complaint.

Afterwards, Sepulveda released the man to his parents, who were waiting in the police department lobby. The family contacted the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office just hours later to report the alleged sexual assault.

Two days later, Sepulveda allegedly did it again, this time to one of two 17-year-old brothers he had taken into custody during a traffic stop, according to police records.

Sepulveda allegedly took one of the brothers to the squad room, where the teen said Sepulveda performed oral sex on him before returning him to the holding cell, records show.

Some moments later, the teen’s brother told Sepulveda no when Sepulveda took him to the room, as well, and asked if he “would be willing to do the same thing.” Sepulveda then returned the second teen to the jail cell.

Guerra said the investigation continues and urges anyone with more information to come forward. “If anybody knows any other incidents related to this case… call us,” Guerra said.