HUTTO, Texas (KXAN) — A disturbance call at a Hutto park last week led to two men facing charges related to prostitution.
Police arrested Zachary Zapata, 25, on a first-degree felony complaint of promoting prostitution with a person less than 18 years old. Cody Bulsterbaum, 35, was charged with prostitution or soliciting a person under the age of 18, which is a second-degree felony.
A Hutto police officer responded to Hutto Lake Park, located at 805 Estate Drive, on Aug. 14 at 9:11 p.m., according to the arrest document. The officer found Zapata, Bulsterbaum and three teenage girls at the pavilion.
An 18-year-old girl told the officer that her friend “was being prostituted by Zapata for money,” the affidavit stated. She said Zapata previously arranged sex with her and Bulsterbaum, too. She told the officer that she received a $25 gift card after Bulsterbaum paid Zapata $130, according to the affidavit.
The document stated the officer also spoke to a 17-year-old girl, who said Zapata previously arranged for her to have sex with Bulsterbaum for $30. She told police that Zapata would get 5% of what she made, according to the affidavit.
On the night of Aug. 14, the affidavit said Zapata reportedly told the 17-year-old that Bulsterbaum would give her alcohol after they had sex. She said Bulsterbaum sexually assaulted her at the park after Zapata arranged for them to meet. The girl told police that she tried to get Bulsterbaum to stop.
The girl said Bulsterbaum paid Zapata $40 before this happened, according to the affidavit.
An officer wrote in the affidavits that he later found a used condom in the spot along a trail where the sexual assault allegedly happened.
Police said Bulsterbaum denied knowing any of the people at the park, and he also denied having sex with any of the teenage girls, the affidavit stated.
The court documents stated that Zapata told police Bulsterbaum paid him to hang out with his friends, adding that “he thinks Bulsterbaum was lonely.” Police said they found $40 on Zapata.
Hearing about this particular case does not shock Kerrie Stannell, the CEO of the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center.
“We see a lot of cases of abuse and exploitation of children,” Stannell said. “We interview over 800 children a year, so I’m not surprised.”
She said this situation highlights why her organization is working with other law enforcement agencies at the moment to create the first ever human trafficking coalition in Williamson County.
“We know that it happens, and Williamson County wants to be prepared,” she said. “All the different agencies are being proactive, so we are definitely apart of that making sure that victims will have the care that they need.”
The coalition may work toward providing more prevention classes to the community, which the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center already does.
“I think people are always surprised that it happens in their backyard, right?” Stannell said. “They don’t expect that to happen, and I want to encourage them to become more educated and encourage them to be alert and informed.”
Bulsterbaum is also facing two misdemeanor charges for marijuana possession and purchasing/furnishing alcohol to a minor. His total bond was set at $27,000, which he posted and was released from jail on Aug. 18.
Zapata remains in the Williamson County Jail with a $25,000 bond.