BIG SPRING, TX (KWES) - A former Big Spring Police Detective has been found guilty on all four counts related to sexual indecency with a child.
A jury returned the verdict for Joel Rojo Thursday afternoon after about two hours of deliberation.
The individual charges against Rojo included indecency with a child by sexual conduct, sexual performance by a child, indecency with a child by exposure and attempted indecency with a child by exposure.
Court documents said back in 2015, Rojo attempted to take pictures of a child's private area and this all happened while he was investigating three separate cases. The indictments said Rojo took each of the three victims between the ages of 12 and 14 to a secluded parking area. He would then try convincing each one to expose themselves.
We're told because each victim had a troubled past, it made each of them a target.
"These girls had some kind of issues. An issue of sexual assault, an issue of being a runaway, those kinds of things, or perhaps being involved in some form as a juvenile," said District Attorney Hardy Wilkerson. "He would use that as a sort of facade."
Rojo is out on bond pending sentencing. He's only allowed to stay within a certain distance from the county. A judge will decide Rojo's sentencing sometime next week but only after his pre-sentence investigation is over.
"We do put a lot of faith in the people we rely upon and protect us," said Wilkerson. "That should be well-placed. If it's not well-placed, if they prey on the weakest in society, especially those that need the most protection, that's a betrayal."
The Big Spring Police Department released this statement: "The Big Spring Police Department, first and foremost, sends our deepest sympathies to the three juvenile victims. We further hope that these convictions will provide closure to each of the victims and allow the healing process to begin. We thank the citizens for their understanding of the department's inability to respond to questions pertaining to this case in order to protect the integrity of the evidence and the privacy of the victims. The Big Spring Police Department has rules and procedures in place that protect you, the citizens and peace officer alike. Joel Rojo's conduct, resulting in these convictions, stem from his failure to follow these rules and procedures and from his failure to uphold the integrity, honesty and fairness that is required of our officers in the Big Spring Police Department. We want you, the citizen, to know that we hold your role in the accountability and integrity of our department in the highest regard. Additionally, we want to remind the community that we depend on your cooperation to report any criminal activity in order to fulfill our mission in protecting our community, especially if this criminal activity concerns the actions of one of our officers. The first time we received notice of any allegations concerning Joel Rojo was in the evening hours of Aug. 20, 2015. Chief Williams took immediate action, that very next morning, in placing Joel Rojo on administrative leave, thereby suspending all of his police powers, pending an administrative and criminal investigation. On Aug. 21, 2015, Chief Williams also promptly notified the Texas Rangers Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety of these allegations, and in response, the Texas Rangers immediately commenced its criminal investigation. The Big Spring Police Department will continue to utilize the assistance of the Texas Rangers for all criminal allegations made regarding any of our employees so that an independent and transparent investigation is conducted. With regard to the concerns of Joel Rojo's termination, all city employees are afforded specific rights under the City's Charter and State Law that do not make termination immediately possible. As a result of our administrative staff's thorough and diligent investigation, the Big Spring Police Department terminated Joel Rojo's employment, in accordance with all applicable law. We want to thank the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers Division, Howard County Victim Services, the Child Advocacy Center, the citizens of Big Spring that served as jurors, the entire staff of the 118th District Court and the employees of the Big Spring Police Department for their assistance in this matter. The Big Spring Police Department asks for continued prayers from the community for the victims involved in this case. It is our sincere hope and prayer that they are able to begin the process of recovery.