Man gets 16 months for sexual exploitation of a minor

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldDecember 21, 2012 

A 46-year-old man who propositioned a teenage boy to perform sex acts in front of a web cam is a predator who deserves a longer prison sentence, a judge said Thursday.

However, because J. Jesus Diaz took responsibility so the victim wouldn't have to testify, Judge Robert Swisher said he reluctantly would follow the prosecutor's recommendation for a one-year, four-month term.

Diaz, who has been in jail since Oct. 12, will serve the time in prison for his guilty pleas to sexual exploitation of a minor, a felony; and tampering with physical evidence, a misdemeanor.

The sentence, handed down in Benton County Superior Court, is below the standard range of two years and seven months to three years and five months.

Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra said Diaz entered the guilty pleas Nov. 22 in exchange for an exceptional sentence below the range.

"The victim in this matter was frightened and embarrassed by the actions of (Diaz). He has been reluctant to participate in the prosecution of the defendant," stated the document prepared by Petra, and signed by Swisher.

"(The victim) failed to show up to two defense interviews. Once he was interviewed, it became clear to the state that he did not wish to participate in a trial," the document continued.

Petra said she agreed to the shorter sentence "in an attempt to resolve this matter and not put the victim through a trial."

Diaz contacted the teen boy Oct. 7 in a parking lot near Fourth Avenue and Olympia Street.

The boy said he had seen Diaz around the area, and Diaz asked if the teen wanted to make some money doing yard work, according to police and court documents.

The boy agreed to go to the man's South Dayton Place home to see what needed to be done, but at some point on the drive Diaz asked the boy a number of questions about sex, including whether he'd be willing to have sex or perform sexual acts in front of a live streaming web camera.

Diaz offered to pay the boy $50 for each sex act on the webcam, documents stated. He also reportedly invited the teen to watch pornography in his house.

The teen declined, never got out of the car at Diaz's home and asked to be taken back to the parking lot where he met Diaz, police said.

The boy claimed Diaz tried to grab his genitals, but he used a fist to knock away Diaz's hand, documents stated.

As he got out of the car, Diaz told the boy "if he was interested in earning money to meet him that next day at the same place," according to a presentencing report in the case. The victim said he agreed only because he was afraid the man might not let him out of the vehicle.

The boy's older brother then called police.

The boy met with detectives and shared his story, pointing out Diaz's home and picking the man in a photo lineup. The victim also claimed he'd seen the man "lingering" in the lot for about two weeks and said he had a 19-year-old friend who was solicited for sexual activities the same day but didn't report it because of his age, the report stated.

Detectives waited in the lot at the scheduled time Oct. 8 and approached Diaz after he parked his car. Diaz went to the police station but refused to answer any questions and immediately asked for an attorney.

He was arrested that day on the sexual exploitation charge and made an initial appearance in court the next day.

Diaz was behind bars when he called two people and told them to remove possible evidence from his house. Police had not yet executed a search warrant on the home.

The calls were made Oct. 10, and Diaz -- who was arrested under the name Jesus Gomez Diaz -- posted bond and got out of jail at 9:45 p.m. Oct. 11.

A detective who listened to the recordings discovered what Diaz had done and investigators quickly searched the house and found a line running from the internet modem in the kitchen into Diaz's locked office, but the line stopped on the desk "where a computer would naturally sit," the presentencing report stated.

Investigators noted computer speakers, printers, cables and software were left behind. However, they did seize 8mm tapes and DVDs that reportedly showed Diaz in sexual acts with men in their late teens and early 20s.

One of the jail calls was to a niece, and Diaz was heard telling her to remove his computer and other data storage devices, to burn the items and to deny knowing anything, the report stated.

Diaz was arrested on the new tampering charge and back behind bars at 12:26 p.m. Oct. 12.

He "vehemently" denied the charges before his guilty plea, saying the teen boy was under the influence of drugs and he approached Diaz in the parking lot because he was in need of money, the report stated. Diaz also claimed the boy brought up inappropriate topics, and he did nothing to encourage the boy.

Diaz has been ordered to have no contact with the victim for 10 years.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com

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