MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. — The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has arrested a suspect accused of committing multiple sex crimes against juveniles.
Jess Rodriguez, 30, was taken into custody by MCSO on Saturday after a months-long investigation allegedly connected Rodriguez to multiple offenses.
The suspect is accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl he met on social media. MCSO said Rodriguez has also been accused of abusing a 19-year-old woman and a 9-year-old girl. Investigators say the young girl was abused for two years by the suspect.
Sergeant Joaquin Enriquez with the Sheriff's Office said Rodriguez used a popular social media site to make contact with his victims. "He offers them something and all of a sudden we are having a conversation," Enriquez said.
When asked what social media platform, Enriquez declined to say because of the ongoing investigation.
"Crimes against children remain a top priority for the Sheriff’s Office,” said Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone in a statement. “This shows exceptional work by multijurisdictional agencies to get a child predator off our streets.”
Rodriguez is facing charges of sexual assault, sexual conduct with a minor, and child molestation. Enriquez said more charges could be on the way, as well as other victims that have not been interviewed at this time.
While it seems the dangers of social media continue to climb when it comes to young kids, Jenna Panas, the CEO of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, said it really makes up less than 10% of the cases they've seen. However, that doesn't mean people should not think this won't happen to their kids.
“What social media does is that it opens that door to access [kids]," Panas said.
She recommends parents keep an eye on their kid's social media apps and talk to them about not giving out personal information. Panas also said they really need to familiarize themselves with these sites.
"You can't effectively talk to children about social media unless you understand what social media can do and what the benefits or drawbacks may be," Panas said.
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