The Port Arthur News
BEAUMONT — A man who approached a child in a Port Arthur Wal Mart then tried to entice the child to Port Neches Park was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison Thursday by U.S. District Judge Ron Clark.
Hector Capetillo Rodriguez, 39, of Edinburg pleaded guilty on Oct. 31 to coercion or enticement of a child. According to information presented in court, on May 30, Rodriguez approached a child inside Wal-Mart and requested assistance in locating a particular toy. During the conversation, Rodriguez asked for the child’s cellular phone number, which the child gave him.
Later that evening, Rodriguez began sending the child text messages thanking the child for assisting him. An adult family member saw the text messages and contacted police, who then assumed the child’s identity and continued the text conversation with Rodriguez. The defendant’s text messages became sexual and a meeting was arranged between Rodriguez and the police posing as the child. Rodriguez arrived at Port Neches Park for what he believed to be a sexual encounter with the child and was arrested by police.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
This case is being investigated by HSI/ICE, the Port Arthur Police Department and the Port Neches Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher T. Tortorice.