Wichita Falls-- A Wichita County judge says it's the worst case of child sex crimes he's seen during his career on the bench. A man is accused of 20 counts of indecency with a child and 8 counts of sexual assault. Wichita Falls police say they have been building their case against Jesse Diaz III for more than a year. According to court documents, they've identified six male victims. Some are younger than 17, while most are younger than 14.
7-News has also learned Diaz was around children all the time through his former job at a children's home, his church's youth group, and as a mentor for Wichita Falls Public Schools. He stood motionless as Judge Michael Little read off charge after charge against him via closed circuit TV Wednesday afternoon. What he didn't read were all the details of the crimes of which he's accused.
Police say one case dates back to 1994, although the bulk of the allegations are from from September of 2004 to May of 2006. Victims told detectives that Diaz would take them out to eat and later out for games at The Plex in the Falls. After that, they'd go back to Diaz's home, where victims say he would sometimes perform oral sex on them, masturbate them, or masturbate himself in front of them.
"It's shocking, I mean any time you hear of this kind of thing like this it's just horrific," said Sheila Catron, Diaz's former boss. He used to work at the Wichita Falls Children's Home, an emergency shelter for those in child protective services. After allegations against Diaz arose, Catron double-checked to make sure he had not violated any of the kids at her shelter. She says they were not. "You can't judge a person just by the initial presence of who they are and what they do to determine if they are a sex offender," said Catron. "I mean you don't know until they're caught. That's what's so terrifying and problematic, because you don't know until they're caught."
Bottom line, Diaz was trusted, by the shelter, and other groups where he worked around kids. Police can't comment specifically about the case, but say pedophiles generally show patterns.
"Over a number of years it's the same target," said WFPD Sgt. Bill Henning. "When they are abusing it's multiple. I mean it may be 5, 10, 100. Schools we've been to say for every one you catch for one of two offenses, they may have abused 50 to 40."
While he waits for his next court date, Diaz will likely remain in jail. The judge set his bond at $50,000 per charge. That's a whopping $1.4 million. One more note to the story: Diaz was charged with four counts of indecency with a child back in 2004. Again, police say that victim was a male younger than 14.