Former Brownwood Police Sgt. Vince Ariaz had sexual contact with two female, teenage Police Explorers and engaged in a “pattern of exploitation,” a Texas Ranger alleged in documents.
A charge filed Wednesday against Ariaz stems from an allegation that he fondled a 16-year-old Explorer in 2004, a complaint filed by Texas Ranger Nick Hanna states.
Ariaz was served with a warrant at the Brown County Jail for indecency with child by sexual contact, authorities said.
Ariaz, 53, was arrested Tuesday at the Brownwood Coliseum Annex on an initial charge of sexual assault of a child. That case involves a different Explorer, a 15-year-old girl.
He was arrested at 6:25 a.m., 25 minutes after getting off work Tuesday. He was wearing his police uniform but not his gunbelt, law enforcement officials have said.
Ariaz remained jailed Thursday on bonds totaling $750,000.
Ariaz, who was fired from the police department after his arrest, declined a request from the Bulletin for a jailhouse interview.
Ariaz started the Explorer program in 2000 and had been the post’s adviser until his arrest.
Hanna filed a complaint in Justice of the Peace Bob Wall’s court alleging that Ariaz fondled the 16-year-old Explorer on Dec. 26, 2004, in a police storage room. The girl was “upset and offended,” the complaint states.
Hanna was contacted on Jan. 29, 2007, by then-Police Sgt. Dennis Weathermon about Ariaz, the complaint states.
“Sgt. Weathermon reported that allegations were made that (the) suspect … made sexual advances toward minor female participants in the Police Explorer program,” the complaint states. On Jan. 31, Hanna interviewed the alleged victim, who said she had joined the Explorers at age 14. He said she is no longer a member of the organization.
Hanna said he then began an investigation. He declined to say how, or if, the investigation into the fondling charge was tied to the other alleged victim.
Brownwood Police Sgt. Troy Carroll said he heard allegations about three weeks ago concerning Ariaz and the 15-year-old Explorer, and he contacted Hanna.
Before Ariaz was arrested, he was the target of surveillance by Hanna and officers from the police and sheriff’s offices, the West Central Texas Interlocal Crime Task Force and the Texas Department of Public Safety Motor Theft Division.
Investigators had been told that Ariaz “was engaging in a sexual relationship” with the 15-year-old Explorer, Hanna stated in a probable cause affidavit related to Ariaz’ arrest.
Surveillance showed Ariaz “engaged in kissing and other inappropriate contact,” Hanna alleged.
Officers set up cameras at the coliseum annex. The affidavit does not clarify what led officers to the annex, the former location of the Brownwood Police Department and municipal courtroom, and the current location of the Brown County Elections Administration Office. Explorers’ equipment is also stored in the building, officials have said.
“Officers utilized video recording devices to monitor and record the event as it was happening,” the affidavit states. At 6:25 a.m., officers saw the two engaged in a sex act, the affidavit states.
Officials have said the alleged sex act happened in the room that formerly housed the municipal courtroom.
Officers entered the room, separated the two and arrested Ariaz.
The girl told investigators Ariaz had sexual contact with her each time she rode with him. Hanna calculated that she had ridden with him 39 times, the affidavit states.
Ariaz, who had been a Brownwood police officer for 17 years, had attained the rank of sergeant and was a shift commander. He ran for police chief in 2006 and finished third in a four-way race.