A former Texas mall employee is in federal custody and has been charged with the sexual exploitation of children after a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigation discovered videos that allegedly show a total of seven individuals sexually assaulting toddlers. The incident led one Republican lawmaker to call for the death penalty.
According to USA Today, 29-year-old Arthur Hector Fernandez III has been charged with sexually exploiting children in videos that allegedly showed seven male individuals assaulting toddlers at the Galleria Mall in Houston, Texas. The videos were discovered by the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) on the dark web and provided to the FBI.
USA Today reported that at least one of the videos of the sexual abuse is believed to have been filmed in one of the mall’s public restrooms since a changing table was spotted in the video.
“The evidence in this case is overwhelming and revolting,” a judge wrote as part of a court order obtained by USA Today. The court order will require Fernandez to remain in custody until his trial.
“I cannot allow (him) to abuse any other minors and there are no conditions or combination of conditions that can alleviate a danger to the community,” the judge added. “This is not a close call.”
According to Daily Mail, Fernandez is currently the only suspect who has been charged in connection with the case; however, law enforcement officials have not indicated whether the other individuals in the videos have been identified.
Daily Mail reported that during the process of the investigation, law enforcement officials discovered that two of the toddlers involved in the sexual abuse case were the children of other mall employees who sometimes left their children in Fernandez’s care.
In response to allegations of the horrifying sexual assault of toddlers by Fernandez and other individuals in Texas, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) posted a statement on social media, urging, “Death penalty now.”
In a statement obtained by Fox 29 Houston, Dr. Bob Sanborn, CEO of Children at Risk, warned parents about potential signs of child abuse.
“Kids, after they’ve been out with someone who you thought you trusted them, they will sort of withdraw. They’ll be more quiet. Look for those changes in your children; bedridden, not eating,” Sanborn said. “All these things are sort of signs that something’s not right with your child. In this case, we’re talking about toddlers. They really couldn’t communicate. They don’t know what’s right and wrong.”