A West Texas middle school janitor stands accused of soliciting, “grooming,” and sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl and attempting to entice another. Authorities said he lured them in by writing his Snapchat ID on the metal toilet paper dispenser in the girls’ bathroom. The curious pre-teens subsequently visited his profile online.
Abilene police held a news conference Wednesday reporting the arrest of Madison Middle School custodian Mario Francisco Gomez. Taylor County Jail records show Gomez, 20, remains in custody on $200,000 bond. He is charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child, a first-degree felony, and two counts of online solicitation of a minor under 14 years old, second-degree felonies. Jail officials confirmed to Breitbart Texas that Gomez is a U.S. citizen born in Abilene.
Police Chief Stan Standridge said Gomez used the social media app Snapchat to contact the two known minors who attend middle school in the Abilene Independent School District. He said Gomez left his online username on the metal toilet paper dispenser in a girls’ bathroom. The police chief did not identify the code or passwords that prompted the two girls to respond.
Standridge only recounted the events police believe occurred after one of the two victims hooked up with Gomez on Snapchat. He said, “From that point on this 20-year-old custodian began grooming the 12-year-old victim.” Standridge explained that grooming is a “specific legal terminology.”
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) defines “grooming” as a practice used by sexual predators in which they manipulate potential victims as well as those individuals surrounding a targeted victim, like parents, to gain access to a child. DSHS says grooming is well-organized and can be short or long term. They note that the longer a sex offender knows an individual the better they are at “zeroing in” their grooming.
In this case, it appears the accused perpetrator gained the trust of the alleged victim relatively quickly. Standridge said police estimated that over roughly two weeks the suspect groomed this child “with the presumption he would want to meet this child.” He said they believe the two met and Gomez sexually assaulted the minor after school hours in a middle school bathroom.
The police chief said investigators identified and interviewed a second female victim. He stated this other minor “did not make an outcry of sexual assault but she did affirm that she, too, did receive unsolicited information via social media specific to Snapchat” from the alleged suspect.
This situation surfaced when the parents of the purportedly sexually assaulted girl emailed the middle school’s principal Tina Wyatt last Saturday, according to the Abilene Reporter-News. Wyatt immediately forwarded the allegations to a school resource office who shared the information with Abilene police investigators.
Standridge stated the district hired Gomez in December as a substitute janitor and he had access to multiple campuses including another middle school and two elementary campuses.
“If his Snapchat profile is, in fact, in other places on other campuses, it is likely we have additional victims out there,” said the police chief. He asked parents to come forward with any information they may have even if their child is not a victim.
Abilene ISD Superintendent David Young told reporters nothing surfaced when the district ran a background check on Gomez before his hiring. Young called Gomez’s purported actions “unconscionable.” He said they immediately fired the custodial worker.
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