Breaking News
More () »

MCSO arrests suspect for multiple sex crimes

The 30-year-old suspect has been connected to sex crimes committed against juveniles, the Sheriff's Office said.

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.

Up to Speed

Catch up on the latest news and stories on our 12News YouTube playlist here. 

More ways to get 12News

On your phone: Download the 12News app for the latest local breaking news straight to your phone.

On your streaming device: Download 12News+ to your streaming device

The free 12News+ app from 12News lets users stream live events — including daily newscasts like "Today in AZ" and "12 News" and our daily lifestyle program, "Arizona Midday"—on Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

12News+ showcases live video throughout the day for breaking news, local news, weather and even an occasional moment of Zen showcasing breathtaking sights from across Arizona.

On social media: Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Silent Witness:

Arizona's Silent Witness program allows people to send in tips and share information about crimes happening within their local communities.

The program shares unsolved felony case information in multiple ways, including TV, radio and social media.

Anyone who has information on a crime or recognizes a suspect described by the program is asked to call 480-948-6377, go to the program's website online or download the Silent Witness app to provide a tip. The identity of anyone who submits a tip is kept anonymous.

Calls to Silent Witness are answered 24/7 by a live person and submitted tips are accepted at all times. Submitted tips are then sent to the detective(s) in charge of the specific case.

Individuals who submit tips that lead to an arrest or indictment in the case can get a reward of up to $1,000.

Have a tip? Submit it on the Silent Witness tip form here.

Before You Leave, Check This Out