A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent accused of kidnapping and repeatedly sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in Arizona was caught on police video saying what appears to be a threat against his accuser.
Aaron Thomas Mitchell, 27, made the incriminating remark after his arrest in April, when local detectives left him alone in an interrogation room without turning off the video recorder, according to federal court documents.
“I cannot believe this s---,” Mitchell, who worked for CBP for 10 months and who is the son of two retired Florida police officers, could be heard saying, according to federal court papers. “F------- little b—-. B—-- is claiming rape. That’s so f—--- crazy. That’s crazy, man. She better hope I don’t get out of here.”
Mitchell’s federal public defenders concede that he “muttered” the statement but insisted in court papers that “there is no evidence that this was a genuine threat.”
“In context, it was clear that he was upset and processing the arrest,” they said. “Indeed, when released into Arizona for two weeks before returning to Florida, he did nothing to contact the alleged victim or her family.”
Mitchell, who had been indicted in April on 18 state charges, now faces three federal charges: a civil rights violation for sexually assaulting a minor; kidnapping a minor; and misleading state investigators, according to a superseding indictment issued by the Department of Justice.
If convicted on the federal charges, Mitchell faces anywhere from 20 years to life in prison, a $250,000 fine and could be placed under supervised parole for the rest of his life, the Department of Justice said in a statement on Nov. 30, when the superseding indictment was unsealed.
Mitchell was ordered to remain in custody until his trial. When he was arraigned on the state charges months earlier, he posted bond and was allowed to live at his parents’ Miami home under electronic monitoring. He was taken back into custody in August when he was federally indicted on one count of kidnapping a minor, after which a federal judge ordered that he remain in detention.
“If Mitchell was bold enough to kidnap a girl near her school, depraved enough to violently and sexually assault her, cunning enough to dispose of incriminating evidence, and careless enough to threaten her while in police custody, then none of Mitchell’s proposed conditions of release would reasonably assure the safety of the community and the victim,” prosecutors argued in court papers filed Nov. 10.
Mitchell worked for the CBP at a border post in Douglas, Arizona, according to the court papers. CBP would only confirm that Mitchell is no longer employed with the department.
In a statement released on April 28 to the Tucson Sentinel, CBP said, “We do not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we cooperate fully with all criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, whether it occurs on or off duty.”
At the time they referred all questions to the Douglas Police Department.
On April 25, Mitchell was wearing a vest emblazoned with the word “POLICE” on it when he spotted the alleged victim, who lives in Mexico but crossed the border into the U.S. regularly to attend high school in Douglas, prosecutors said in court papers.
Douglas is about two hours southeast of Tucson, Ariz.
Driving up in his personal car, Mitchell asked the teenager to present her papers, took her backpack and “ordered her into the car so he could take her to a police station,” according to Mitchell’s October appeal of the pre-trial detention order.
But after handcuffing her, Mitchell allegedly “asked her age and family’s names, and drove her to his apartment an hour away in Sierra Vista, Arizona,” according to the court document.
There, Mitchell “made her stay in the car while he retrieved a jacket, placed the jacket over her shoulders to hide the handcuffs before he walked her inside,” the court papers state.
Once inside, according to the papers, Mitchell “told her to do as instructed if she did not want to get hurt” and “repeatedly sexually assaulted her.”
Several hours later, Mitchell drove the teenager back to Douglas and falsely identified himself as a Sierra Vista police officer. He tossed her backpack into a dumpster, the court papers state.
The victim reported the alleged assault the next day and Mitchell was taken into custody. Mitchell “gave a recorded post-arrest statement in which he admitted to taking the girl to his apartment to skip school but said they only watched television.” He also said he recognized the girl “from her prior border crossings,” according to the court papers.
Although Mitchell denied assaulting the teenager, “DNA recovered from the girl’s genitalia was consistent with Mitchell’s DNA,” the papers state.