Gavel

A Houston, Texas, man accused of rape and enticing away a child has officially been set for a jury trial in January after entering a plea of not guilty.

Jose Cruz Fernandez faces charges of rape in the second degree and fraudulently enticing away a child. He currently remains on a $500,000 bond.

While the case originally happened on or around March 31, Fernandez waived his right to a preliminary hearing on July 24. During arraignment on Aug. 8, Fernandez plead not guilty.

Police reports obtained from the Stephens County Courthouse show law enforcement originally responded to a call about a runaway juvenile around 2 p.m. March 31.

The parent of the 15 year old girl told police the daughter had gone to church, but when they arrived to pick the girl up, they couldn’t locate her.

Affidavits show police asked the parents to bring the minor’s school assigned tablet to the police department because the investigator of the case had made contact with the minor in the past.

Reports show upon searching the tablet, police were able to find a social media platform containing a chat with a user identified as “Jose Alvarez.” Police noted in their report the minor and “Jose Alvarez” had arranged for the man to travel to Stephens County and take the minor back to Houston.

Police also reported one nude photo of the minor was shared in the chat at request of the man.

“This chat appeared to have culminated with ‘Jose Alvarez’ arriving at Ray of Hope Church, and leaving with (the minor).”

At this time, police “submitted a request under exigent circumstances to Facebook for subscriber information” related to the account under the name “Jose Alvarez.” Investigators reported treating the case as “exigent in nature based on the likelihood that ‘Jose Alvarez’ would transport the minor child … across state lines for purpose of sexual intercourse” and stated they “recognized the high likelihood that (the minor) was at risk for being trafficked,” reports state.

Through work with Facebook to obtain a cellphone number linked with the account and Sprint, police were able to track the phone to Heritage Inn, a motel located in Duncan.

Police made contact with a desk clerk, who positively identified the picture of the man presented to them, but stated “Jose Alvarez” checked in under the name “Jose Paz.” The clerk also advised they believed the man to be alone.

Reports show police knocked on the door to the hotel room and after repeated knocking and a considerable amount of time, the same male under “Jose Alvarez” on Facebook answered the door. Reports show he was detained and later identified as Jose De La Paz Cruz Fernandez. He was transported to the Stephens County Jail.

Police still on the scene noticed clothing of both Fernandez and the minor were on the floor and the bed “appeared to have been laid in,” reports state.

Police conducted an interview with the minor, who told police she met Fernandez online in early March. The minor also told police Fernandez asked for nude photos one time and that she had sent at least one photo.

The minor, according to reports, further told police Fernandez told her he was coming to Duncan to pick her up and take her back to Houston to be married.

Reports also show the minor advised police Fernandez wanted to pick her up the night before from her home, but she declined. She did admit, however, to giving the address to Ray of Hope Church, reports state.

The minor told police while she was at the hotel with Fernandez, they did have sex twice. She believed the man’s name to be Jose Alvarez and “became emotional when she realized that this was not his actual name.”

Fernandez is set to appear for felony docket call at 9 a.m. Dec. 18, 2019. Trial is slated to begin at 9 a.m. Jan. 27, 2020.