A woman who lived with a foster parent accused of child sexual assault is defending him, saying she believes he’s innocent.
Selena Puente was 17 when she ended up in Miguel Briseno’s home in 2009.
Medina and Bexar counties have built a case against Briseno following claims made by three women who were teenagers under his care between 2005 and 2010.
“Those things being said about him, they’re not true,” said Puente, while standing outside the Devine house she called home for 11 months.
Puente had been through about nine foster homes before ending up with the Brisenos.
“My experience here was the best I had in foster care with (Child Protective Services),” she said.
Puente moved out at 18 but returned later and stayed in touch with them for some years.
“My dad literally radiates love. There’s no way he hurt anybody,” she said.
Puente said she was heartbroken and in disbelief after finding out about his arrest. She said during her time there, she never saw or experienced anything that would lead her to believe something was wrong.
“If for some reason things were going on before I got here, I still don’t believe the man that was my dad did those things,” she said.
Puente doesn’t have a motive as to why the women would make the allegations now.
“I stand behind my parents 100 percent,” she said. “I’m not dismissing what these other girls are saying, because people are going to say you don’t know what happened behind closed doors.”
Puente said Briseno is not the monster people are making him out to be.
Investigators have asked for other females fostered in the Briseno home to come forward if they have information.
Child Protective Services issued the following statement:
“We found out about this arrest late yesterday from the media, and now that we are aware of the investigation of incidents from 2005 to 2010, we are cooperating fully with all law enforcement agencies involved and sharing all information that we have.
“The descriptions of the alleged incidents are sickening. It is important to note that once we became aware of sexual abuse allegations reported to us in 2013, we immediately stopped all foster placements into that home.
“Here is how placement works:
“CPS is the legal parent of a child in foster care. All foster homes in Texas belong to networks of foster homes known as child-placing agencies, or CPAs, that are licensed by the state. The CPAs recruit, train, and are responsible for approving or ‘verifying’ each foster parent and foster home as suitable for foster care.
“When a child is removed into foster care, and CPS determines that a foster home is the best placement, CPS will contact a CPA and inquire about available placements in that CPA’s network of foster homes. Based on the recommendation of the CPA, CPS will either agree with a specific placement or seek another placement.
In this case, the Briseno home was verified, or approved for placements, by Therapeutic Family Life from 2002 until 2009. The foster parent then moved to another CPA, Refuge House San Antonio, that kept that home verified for placements until 2016. However, as we indicated earlier, CPS did not make any placements after April 2013.”