Myrtle Beach man says immigrant is alleging rape to get legal status

Myrtle Beach man says immigrant is alleging rape to get legal status

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Regis Souza is an immigrant who was working undercover for the government, but lost his job because of allegations he says aren't true. He claims that they are an attempt by one illegal immigrant woman to change her and her family's future in a big way.

"I have to prove all the time that I didn't do it," cried Souza as he talked about the third-degree criminal sexual conduct charge he'll face in an Horry County courtroom next year.

Souza is a father of two kids, a husband and a native of Brazil who came to the United States back in 2006 on a work Visa to do research with the NAACP in New Jersey, he says.

Souza later moved to Myrtle Beach, and in a letter dated September 29, 2011 was granted 'deferred action' by Homeland Security for one year. That means he could stay in the U.S. according to the letter, for "the convenience of the U.S. government." Reluctant to provide details about the job, his lawyer, Jim Irvin, says, "He was helping find illegal immigrants that were masquerading as legal immigrants."

While working for the United States, a woman in Myrtle Beach filed a police report on November 4, 2013, stating Souza said he would turn her over to immigration agents if she refused to have sex with him.

Souza says the two had intercourse on several occasions but that it was consensual. He believes the woman is accusing him of the crime for a clear reason.

"I believe that someone instructed her to apply for a U-Visa, victim of rape, so that she can have a status," he said.

Under the Battered Immigrant Women's Protection act, created in 2000, non-legal immigrants who are the victims of rape, trafficking, blackmail, perjury and a list of other crimes may be eligible for legal status.

Ten thousand U-Visas are granted a year, and even if Souza is found not guilty, the accuser can still be eligible for legal status. The decision is up to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

"I'm afraid this opens the door for maybe some false allegations," Irvin says. "It only applies to women, so women can make their families legal and stay in the country."

When asked how the agency prevents people from taking advantage of the program, USCIS public affairs said each case is evaluated on its own merit based on evidence provided.

Sticking by her husband's side, Ekaterina Kulkova says, "If you are not a good person, it is a good way out, but I would personally never use it."

But Souza's family feels they have a strong case. The police report shows the sexual encounter wasn't reported for more than a year after it happened. Souza's lawyer says his client passed a lie detector test, although inadmissible in court. Video that Souza showed WMBF News shows what he says is the victim, laughing with a friend two treadmills away from him at the gym, just a few days after his bond hearing where he says she cried and begged the judge not to let him out of jail because she was afraid of him.

"I believe someone was instructing her to provoke reaction out of me," Souza says.

Jim Irvin says he won't go into too many details about their defense prior to the case being tried, but says discovery recently turned over to him by the prosecutor – a tape-recorded conversation by the victim between her and Souza - is also foretelling.

"She was taping it, trying to set him up, she was making self-serving statements," Irvin says.

Souza no longer works for Homeland Security and if found guilty, could face jail time and ultimately be deported.

"I don't believe it's going to happen, because I didn't do it," he says. "I believe always that the truth is going to prove my innocence and I believe in the American system."

WMBF News reached out to the accuser to get her side of the story, but has yet to hear back.

Irvin says a jury will hear this case in January.

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