A federal deputy with the ruling Morena party has decided not to stand for reelection at the upcoming elections amid accusations that he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old boy.
Morena announced Thursday night that Saúl Huerta, a deputy from Puebla, had resigned as a candidate for the June 6 elections, at which the entire lower house of Congress will be renewed.
The announcement came after audio was broadcast by Imagen Televisíon in which a teenage boy accuses Huerta of drugging him and assaulting him at a hotel in the Mexico City neighborhood of Juárez on Wednesday.
The youth, who was apparently working with the 63-year-old lawmaker, said Huerta gave him a soft drink that tasted “bitter,” adding that when he got out of a car upon arriving at the hotel, he felt “very dizzy” and could barely walk.
He said the deputy told him that he would rent two rooms but he only paid for one with one bed. The 15-year-old said that he lay down on the bed because he was feeling ill and that Huerta went to the bathroom.
When the lawmaker exited, the youth said, the man was completely naked.
The teenager said Huerta pulled his pants down and guided his hand to his penis while using his own hand to masturbate him.
Imagen Televisíon also published audio of a telephone conversation between Huerta and the boy’s mother. In the conversation, the deputy attempts to reach a financial settlement with the woman to put an end to the scandal.
“Don’t destroy me,” he pleads with her on repeated occasions. “Let’s reach an economic agreement. … I’m begging you, help me; you’re going to destroy me. I’m a good person,” Huerta said.
The lawmaker was arrested at the hotel after the teenager managed to alert the manager that he had been sexually assaulted. Police took Huerta to the offices of the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office (FGJ), but he was later released because, as a deputy, he has immunity from prosecution, known as the fuero.
The FGJ said it was continuing its investigation and would seek to have the lawmaker’s immunity removed if there was sufficient evidence against him.
Huerta, who participated virtually in a lower house session just hours after he was released from custody, later claimed that he had been a victim of an extortion and blackmail attempt in which he was “falsely” accused of abusing the boy. He claimed that the alleged victim was examined and that experts found no evidence of an assault. The deputy rejected the claim that he had used his fuero to escape custody.
Despite Morena Secretary-General Citlalli Hernández having called on Huerta to take a temporary leave of absence while the case was investigated, Morena’s leader in the lower house of Congress declined to comment on Thursday about the accusations Huerta faces or discipline him, saying that the alleged incident was part of his personal life and not related to his duties as a deputy.
“I can’t offer an opinion on personal things, not of him nor any other members of the Chamber of Deputies,” Ignacio Mier Velazco told reporters.
Asked whether he would seek Huerta’s resignation, Mier said:
“He didn’t do it [commit the alleged assault] in his role as a federal deputy; he did it in his personal life. I repeat, in the personal lives of deputies, I can’t get involved.”
Morena should be asked about the matter, Mier said, stressing that he is not the leader of the party.
Morena subsequently announced on Twitter that Huerta had “definitively” and “irrevocably” resigned his candidacy for deputy at the June 6 elections, i.e., he voluntarily decided not to stand for reelection.
Morena did not force him to relinquish his candidacy, nor did it demand that he step down from his position, which he will continue to hold until the end of August.
Later on Thursday night, Mier clarified his position with regard to the allegations: “As coordinator of the Morena deputies, I express my repudiation of any act that is a crime against a minor,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Law enforcement authorities must investigate under the principles of presumption of innocence and due process. The Chamber of Deputies doesn’t have the power to exercise a process of desafuero [the removal of immunity] except through the request of the Attorney General’s Office or a judge,” Mier added.
“In the case of Saúl Huerta,” he said, “we will remain attentive and assist in whatever is required by the ministerial authorities.”