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HCSO: registered sex offender engaged in this behavior ‘shortly after bonding out’

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A 24-year-old man in the Hays County jail facing several charges for sex crimes involving children has a history of those types of attacks, police said.

Registered sex offender, Diego Alejandro Cortez, was recently charged with harboring a runaway, trafficking a child to engage in sexual conduct, 10 counts of possession of child pornography and continuous sex abuse of a child under 14.

Criminal history

Hays County Sheriff Deputy Anthony Hipolito said this isn’t Cortez’s first run-in with the law for a similar type of offense.

“He was arrested up in the Abilene Parker County area,” Hipolito said.

In December 2021, our sister station in Abilene, KTAB/KRBC, reported about the parents of a 15-year-old girl finding out that a man had been in their daughter’s bedroom.

“According to the Weatherford Police Department, the girl told police she met the man, who she only knew as Diego, on a social media platform before giving him her address,” KTAB wrote.

Police said the girl reported they had sex on three occasions at her house. KTAB reported that Cortez was arrested by Abilene police for sexual assault of a child.

According to court documents, Cortez was placed on the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry in May 2021.

However, the HCSO said that didn’t stop him from committing more crimes.

“There’s evidence both through videos and photos that he was engaging in this behavior shortly after he bonded out from his original,” HCSO Sergeant Mark Opiela said. “Whatever the consequence was that led to his registration or however he pled out, I don’t know that that had a significant impact on preventing him from committing these acts any further.”

‘Not that common’

Stacie Ordonez is a Criminal Justice Lecturer at the University of Texas at El Paso. Ordonez said she spent more than a decade supervising sex offenders.

She said it’s more common for sex offenders with child victims to re-offend, but not as much as one would think.

“Recidivism is not common in committing a new sex crime,” Ordonez said. “It is common for them to commit another crime, but not a sex crime.”

Ordonez said treatment can help prevent some from re-offending. “It’s teaching these offenders how to cope with their impulse, how to change their mindset,” she said.

But unless mandated, Ordonez said it’s unlikely they’ll seek it themselves.

“I’ve supervised over 1,000 sex offenders in my career, and none of them would seek treatment at a personal level,” Ordonez said. “They would only do it because it was mandated by the court.”

Working together

In the case of Cortez, law enforcement believes there are several other victims possibly across the state.

They said it’s on every part of the criminal justice system to prevent there from being more in the future.

“Law enforcement needs to work with the judicial system to ensure repeat offenders don’t happen,” Hipolito said.