News Roundup: Victoria Islamic Center Arsonist Sentenced To More Than 24 Years In Prison

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelOctober 18, 2018 1:24 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The man convicted of setting fire to a south Texas mosque was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison Wednesday.

Marq Vincent Perez was convicted in July of federal arson, explosives, and hate crime charges for torching the Victoria Islamic Center in 2017.

During his trial, prosecutors argued that the 26 year old set fire to the mosque because of his “rabid hatred” of Muslims.

Omar Rachid handles public relations for the Victoria Islamic Center and is a longtime member. He explains the sentence provides a sense of closure, but it can’t restore what was once a feeling of comfort and safety.

“I think it will take a long time to really overcome that fear,” Rachid says.

Rachid adds the Victoria Islamic Center is taking new steps to ensure security. He says, for instance, they used to pray with the doors open, and people could come and go as they pleased. But that’s not the case anymore.

“So we have installed a very robust security system, we have a key code, so each member of our congregation has to have a code to enter the mosque,” Rachid says.

The sentencing comes several weeks after the Victoria Islamic Center reopened, with the help of donations from around the world.

(Texas Standard’s Jill Ament attended their open house at the beginning of October and you can hear more about that here.)

A large number of deportations in the Rio Grande Valley has created serious health problems among mixed-status families. That’s according to a new report looking at the effects of Senate Bill 4, a state law requiring local law enforcement officers to work with federal immigration officials. Ashley Lopez with KUT News in Austin reports.

According to the report released yesterday by a public health research group called Human Impact Partners and an immigrant rights group called LUPE, about 28 hundred Rio Grande Valley residents were deported by federal officials last year. And about 18 hundred children who born here in the United States had a parent deported. Ana Tellez with Human Impact Partners’ says many families are now living with extreme fear that they will be deported next.

“And this is really creating this fear and anxiety. It is a toxic stressor. So we know from past research that children who experience separation from a parent are at greater risk of poor health outcomes over the course of their lives.”

Tellez says this includes asthma, trouble sleeping as well as learning disabilities. The study also found that PTSD is potentially higher in the Valley. According to the survey, nearly one in five children of respondents – regardless of immigration status – experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. That’s compared with the U.S. average of one in 20 children.

The former president of USA Gymnastics is awaiting extradition from Tennessee to Texas after being accused of covering up sexual abuse by former sports doctor Larry Nassar.

Texas authorities allege Steve Penny ordered the removal of documents from Karolyi Ranch in Walker County where athletes trained.

This is the first arrest of an alleged Nassar enabler, since Nassar himself was sentenced to hundreds of years in prison for child pornography and sexual misconduct charges.