Lawsuit Against Former USBP-Yuma Official On Hold As He Awaits Trial On Sexual Assault Charges

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A Pima County jury will be called on this summer to decide whether a now retired, high-ranking U.S. Border Patrol official is guilty of sexually assaulting a fellow agent in his hotel room in 2019 after both became intoxicated.

Gustavo Zamora has been ordered to stand trial in June on four Class 2 felonies – one count of kidnapping by restraint and three counts of sexual assault- stemming from his sexual conduct with the female agent on May 23, 2019. At the time, Zamora was the assistant chief patrol agent of USBP’s Yuma Sector.

As Zamora awaits for the weeklong trial to begin June 14, one thing he does not have to worry about for now is a lawsuit the woman filed in 2021 against Zamora and his wife, Gloria Chavez, who is the top agent of USBP’s El Paso Sector. A Pima County judge has put the lawsuit on hold pending resolution of the criminal prosecution to not prejudice Zamora’s due process rights.

“The Court has discretion to stay a civil proceeding when parallel criminal proceedings are ongoing,” Judge Jeffrey Sklar wrote in his order. “If discovery proceeded before the criminal case were resolved, Mr. Zamora might choose to assert his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. This would impair his ability to mount a defense. It could also result in an adverse inference at
trial.”

Public records show Zamora arranged to have dinner with the female agent, who he became acquainted with several years earlier when both worked for USBP’s Spokane Sector. He also invited the female agent’s new supervisor, Tucson Chief Patrol Agent Roy Villareal, who stayed long enough for a drink and then left.

Zamora came under investigation two days later when the woman filed a report with the Tucson Police Department alleging she had been sexually assaulted in Zamora’s hotel room. Zamora does not deny the two had sex, but in a phone call recorded after the woman contacted TPD, he pushed back on her claim that she did not give consent for sex.

He noted that he too had consumed so much alcohol that it is unclear whether he was able to consent to sex as well.

Court records show it was Zamora who reported the incident to USBP officials after being contacted by TPD detectives. He was indicted by a Pima County grand jury in July and retired shortly after his arrest. Zamora later received court permission to reside in Texas pending trial.

That trial has been delayed a few times due to COVID-19 issues. It will start with the selection of a 12-person jury due to the fact Zamora faces 30 or more years in prison if convicted of all counts.

Villareal is one of a dozen people the Pima County Attorney’s Office intends to call as witnesses at trial. In court records, the now-retired USBP chief is noted as saying his interactions with Zamora and the female agent at the restaurant did not raise any concerns although he had no knowledge of what transpired after he left.

Zamora and the woman each admitted consuming several rounds of alcohol. Security footage from inside the nearby hotel later that evening shows the woman had difficulty walking and standing on her own in the hallway.

According to the lawsuit, Zamora sporadically stayed in touch with the woman after they worked together in 2015. His communications allegedly significantly increased after she suffered a brain injury in 2018. At the time of the dinner in May 2019, the woman was employed with USBP Tucson Sector but not back to full duty, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also states the woman was meeting Zamora for dinner at 5:30 p.m. because he wanted to introduce her to Villareal, who had been named chief patrol agent of the Tucson Sector a few weeks earlier.

It is unclear from the lawsuit what time Villareal was present, but he appears to have been gone before the level of drinking increased around 8:30 p.m. At about 11 p.m. the woman “became extremely intoxicated and blacked out,” according to her lawsuit.

The woman alleges she regained consciousness in the hotel room while being sexually assaulted by Zamora. Her lawsuit also alleges she recalls various sex acts occurring as she went in and out of consciousness, but Zamora would not stop and prevented her from getting off the bed.

The lawsuit seeks damages against Zamora for battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It also claims Zamora is responsible for negligence related to his own intoxication.

“Mr. Zamora has claimed that he was too intoxicated to have intended his 8 actions or the harm caused,” the civil complaint states. “To the extent that Mr. Zamora was intoxicated or otherwise did not act with the requisite intent, Mr. Zamora, at a minimum, acted negligently…by failing to use reasonable care.”

Although the woman is publicly identified in her lawsuit, it is the normal practice of Arizona Daily Independent to not publish the name of an alleged sexual assault victim.

Zamora’s wife is named as a defendant for purposes of binding any marital interests in the event of a judgment.