VICTORIA, Texas - Editor's Note: This article contains graphic details of the alleged sexual assault. Newscenter 25 has chosen to protect the identity of the victim by not publishing her name and referring to her throughout as "the victim."
Tuesday marked the beginning of former Precinct One Constable Jesse Garza's trial for the alleged sexual assault that happened in 2017.
Constable Jesse Garza is accused of forcing a Bloomington woman to have sex with him in August 2017. He is also accused of abusing his power as a law enforcement officer. As a result of the accusations, he was removed from his position in May of 2019.
Prosecutor's Opening Statement
When the trial started at 9:00 a.m. on June 11th at the Victoria County Courthouse, the opening statement was given by the prosecutor's attorney Tim Poynter.
Poynter stated, the victim went on a ride along with Jesse Garza and Garza contacted the victim when she was 18. The victim told Garza that she was interested in being in law enforcement.
She went on a second ride along with Garza who started touching her inappropriately.
On August 12, 2017, the victim went on the third ride along with Garza, and she stated in a text message that she "wanted to be at home by 12 midnight." Garza asked "Why are you going then, what if it gets busy?" The victim said. "okay then 1:00 a.m."
Then he told the victim to wear "booty shorts." The victim and Garza went on the ride along and about 1:30 a.m. he pulled over on the side of the road and says they are waiting on another deputy.
He touched her thighs she said "no," she didn't want to have sex. Then he made her grope his penis. He walked over to her side of the car, she asked, "if I do this will you take me home?"
She had sex with him, then he drove her home. On the way to take her home he tried to talk to her she didn't say anything back to him. Between the victim and Garza, a total of 775 text messages were exchanged.
In one message he told the victim that "no means yes."
Defendant Opening Statement
The defendant's attorney, Dexter Eaves, states the victim is not truthful, and she sought out the Officer because no one else would let her do a ride along.
Eaves also mentioned they didn't like Garza, winning the election, and he believes the evidence is going to show this is coercion.
No written statement and an 18-year-old who wants to get a job in law enforcement. The defense attorney believes this was a consensual relationship with the victim and Garza.
First Witness Statement
Prosecutor Poynter called the first witness to the stand, Mr. Brown, a Digital Forensic Investigator for the Texas Rangers.
Mr. Brown brought two cell phones in a plastic bag to the stand.
The bag contained an iPhone, and an Android, and Mr. Brown stated that he received the phones after the warrant was issued to confiscated Garza's phones. He also stated that the iPhone was Garza's personal phone and the android was the work phone.
Mr. Brown conducted an extract on Garza's phones. The personal phone contains photos and text messages between the victim and Garza.
All the evidence was in Garza's personal iPhone and evidence on the victim's phone was done by Victoria Police Department.
Second Witness Statement
The prosecutor called the victim's licensed professional counselor to the stand. The counselor stated that on January 11th and 17th, 2018 she saw the victim and noticed she was hesitant, scared and intimated, but she gave details about how she felt.
She stated, the victim said Garza made her feel uncomfortable. That he brushed her breast, took her to a dark remote area and assaulted her while he had the victim pinned between the seats.
The counselor began to tell how sexual assault impacts peoples lives.
She continued by "saying sexual assaults make people afraid. The predator usually gains the victim's trust then violates it. Sometimes a victim will act as if it didn't happen, develop an addiction or act out."
In this case, the victim didn't know how this would affect her career.
The Victim's Statement (This contains explicit details)
The victim took the stand and mentioned she is from Bloomington and attended Bloomington High School.
She graduated from High School in 2017 and met Garza at night during the store closing hours while she was looking to see if anyone was still in the store. Then he walked in 10 minutes before the store was closing. Garza was in his work uniform, and she walked up to him and asked if she could help him.
He said, he was looking for some medicine, so she assisted him in finding it, so she could get off of work.
While ringing Garza up at the register, the victim told him that she was interested in the Ride-Along Program and if he knew anything about it to let her know.
The ride along program is to provide interested citizens an insight into the duties of the daily activities of a Police Officer.
Garza gave her his phone number and the Captain's phone number, but a few days later Garza made the initial contact with the victim.
During the trial, the text messages were displayed to the jury showing that Garza texted the victim.
He said, her name, and she responded "who this". Garza's response was "this is Jesse Garza, the constable for Bloomington I talked to you when you were at work at Dollar Tree." Then Garza offered to allow the victim to ride along with him.
While they were planning the time Garza would pick up the victim, she asked what should she wear.
Garza told the victim "not like the porn you be watching on your phone." The victim stated Garza came to pick her up around 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. and he was driving a black truck with the Victoria County Constable written on it. He wore his work uniform on all the ride along.
On the first ride, the victim stated "Garza was making inappropriate comments during the ride, but he didn't touch her.
He served a few people in Bloomington, then they met up with a Deputy who was also doing a ride along, and they all went out to eat. The victim stated she offered to pay for her own meal but Garza paid for it instead. Once they were done eating she sat with another deputy who joined them, he showed her reports and how to respond back.
The victim stated Garza would text her while they were in the car together. Some text messages Garza sent to the victim stated: "you better make daddy happy,". He told the victim he would arrest her, she said "no". Garza goes on to say "put you in handcuffs and you'll be calling me sir,".
The victim stated, she saw red flags but didn't know how to put a stop to the inappropriate text messages, and she never had interactions with anyone like this before.
During the text messages, Garza mentioned he was watching the victim while she was at home and tried to guess the color of her panties, he guessed twice, and she said "no". Then Garza said, "Oh that's because you don't have any on."
These messages were exchanged around midnight.
Garza went on to discourage the victim from talking to guys her age, he said, he would beat up the men who tried to talk to her.
Then he said, "you belong to Daddy now." The victim kept responding to Garza and in one text message, she admitted she likes older guys.
Then he sent her a picture of his private area and asked for a picture back, she told him "no".
Garza went to her job and sat outside in his patrol truck watching her and asked her a few questions about the people in the store.
The victim mentioned when she left work she saw his patrol car. The victim stated Garza offered her trips out of town and asked her to get drunk.
The victim was only 18 years old at the time and still attending High School.
He often referred to himself as "daddy" and offered the victim to stay in his hotel room, she replied "no."
Garza advised "her to skip school to go to San Antonio" with him, and he said he would take her to his room and choke her with his thick rod inside of her," the victim replied, "no".
Garza then asked "let me put the tip inside of her," and the victim said "no". He went on to say "let me smash," the victim responded and said "no". Garza mentioned he wanted to see the victim drunk, so he could take advantage of her and encouraged her to drink.
On the second ride along, the victim stated Garza touched her breast, and she pushed his hand away and accidentally hit his private area.
The third ride Garza invited her to ride on a Friday night, she said she needed to be home by midnight. He said, "why ride with me then because what if it gets busy". The victim then said 1:00 a.m.
The victim asked what shirt should she wear, and he said "she didn't need to wear a shirt, and she could wear booty shorts. Then he picked her up in the black truck with Victoria County Constable written on it.
The victim stated, he arrived around 7 p.m. and she had on a long sleeve black shirt with some jeans. On this ride along, they received a call about a fight in downtown Victoria where the incident occurred.
Once they arrived other officers were on the scene and took care of the incident. Garza and the victim stayed in the car and then drove off.
The victim stated they started driving down a country road going North because she didn't know the area any longer. The victim stated "she kept asking him where are they going" then they pulled over on a gravel road and sat there, she said, "why are we here, can you take me home."
Garza mentioned "I'll take you home if you give me a kiss." The victim looked at her phone, but she didn't have any service.
Then she leaned over and kissed him, when she kissed Garza she bit his lip, hoping that it would discourage him from wanting her, but he liked it.
The victim, then asked will you take me home now. Garza said "you're not done yet, you have to let me touch your butt." The victim said, "if I let you touch my butt will you take me home?" Garza said, "yes."
So she allowed him to touch her butt, and he took it further. The victim asked will you take me home now and Garza said, "you're not done yet."
He asked her to have sex with him, she said, "if I do will you take me home."
Then he didn't answer her and got out of the car, walked to her side of the car and opened her door.
The victim pulled down her pants and Garza took off his pants and took advantage of her. She stated, she did it because she was afraid of him and wanted to go home.
Garza had his work uniform on and the victim didn't want to make him mad because she didn't know what he would do to her.
Day two of the trial begins Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.
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