ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A crew member aboard an Alaska-based fishing vessel pleaded guilty to sexually harassing a federal fisheries observer and will be immediately deported following a ruling by a federal magistrate judge.
Victor D. Chavez-Ramirez, 28, worked on the FV Frontier Spirit for two months starting in August 2008. During that time, a National Marine Fisheries Service observer was assigned to the same vessel.
Chavez-Ramirez was arrested last month in Unalaska, Alaska, while working aboard the FV Frontier Explorer, a sister vessel to the FV Frontier Spirit. Both vessels are owned by the Seattle-based company Clipper Seafoods, Ltd.
During Tuesday's court proceedings, the observer provided a statement describing Chavez-Ramirez's behavior and its impact on her. She also detailed how it interfered with her work as a fisheries observer.
After accepting Chavez-Ramirez's guilty plea, U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Smith sentenced him to immediate deportation to Mexico by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), three years probation and a fine of $1,500. He was also ordered to attend sexual harassment training and to not obtain employment in any fishing-related industry during probation. These conditions were imposed whether or not Chavez-Ramirez is in the United States.
"We will not countenance sexual harassment in any business. All people have a right to perform their work free from harassment," said Karen Loeffler, U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska.
"We take offenses against observers very seriously. These individuals work very long hours in a hazardous marine environ and they are entitled to work in a safe environment, free from any form of assault, harassment, or interference," said Sherrie Myers, special agent in charge of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration office of law enforcement in Alaska. "These types of offenses threaten both the observer's safety as well as their ability to collect biological data that is essential for effective management of the fisheries."
"At the magistrate judge's direction, the defendant in this case will come into the custody of ICE for immediate removal from the United States," said Nathalie Asher, field office director for the ICE Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations in Alaska. "We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners in Alaska and focus our enforcement efforts on dangerous criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to public safety."