To the editor:

I have been stewing over this since Mrs. Taylor’s first letter in August. Her letter of Sept. 12 pushed me over the edge and now I feel the need to set her straight and see if she can “get it.”

I know that girls are maturing at a faster rate these days. I also know that it is a crock to blame them for the actions of an adult. I have a high school age daughter. She does not wear makeup very often and does not dress provocatively; however, she still looks older than her age. Does that really give a man entrusted with her care the right to touch her? Mrs. Taylor suggested that we ask the high school girls if the victims in this case were at least partially to blame. I can tell you what my daughter has said from the get go. She has said that this man should be in jail for what he did. He is an adult, the victims were children!

Mrs. Taylor has also suggested that Mr. Ariaz was treated unfairly in his bond. I know personally of a man arrested last summer on the exact same charges. In his case, however, there were far fewer counts (not more than six) and he received a bond of $750,000. He requested a bond reduction and his bond was only reduced to $450,000. He is still sitting in Brown County Jail one year later awaiting trial. Mr. Ariaz received a bond of $750,000 on 30 counts. Unfair? He is at least in the comfort of his home, with his family, and not eating jail food! How is this unfair?

I worked for several years within the law enforcement community in this area. Yes, cops make mistakes. They sometimes write the wrong driver’s license number on a ticket. This is a mistake. Every police officer in every county in Texas will tell you sexual contact with an underage minor is not a “mistake,” it is a criminal act. There is an old saying among police officers that “15 will get you 20 every time.” What do you think that means Mrs. Taylor?

I have worked with victims of the exact same crime as that of which Mr. Ariaz is accused. I have had extensive training in the behaviors of a sexual predator. Sexual predators will go after the child they feel will be easiest to manipulate into believing that he or she has a right to do whatever they want to this child. They employ every dirty trick in the book to keep the victim quiet. As I don’t know all the facts of the case, I am just going to say that perhaps these children were threatened in some way to keep them quiet. Even if these girls were standing nude in front of him, he knew better! He is a grown man and a police officer. He knew that having sexual contact with the girls, regardless of the situation, was illegal. He was sworn to uphold the law and protect the innocent. Instead, he chose to steal a child’s innocence! Mrs. Taylor, I am glad that your daughter wasn’t a victim of this man during her time as an Explorer. I would like to ask you a question — if your daughter had been a victim, would you be spouting the same line of bull to the community that you are now? I don’t think you would.

It matters not when the victims told. It matters only that they told. Many victims hold on to these crimes for years either from shame or fear of retribution from their attacker. This is common in many sexual cases, not just crimes against children. Mrs. Taylor, the victim is never to be blamed. To do so places a stigma on a child and could cause them to continue being a victim for years to come. Just because these girls didn’t tell in what you consider a timely manner, you assume they must be at fault. I, however, have seen this time and again. It doesn’t take much to strike fear into the heart of a child. If a child comes to a parent with an allegation of abuse, it should be taken seriously and taken directly to the authorities. No exceptions — not even for an upstanding police officer in the community.

As for where this girl was at 6 a.m. That is none of your business and has very little to do with the case. Perhaps her parents did know that she was out of the house and with this officer. You do not know any better than I do whether or not she had permission to be out of the house with him. Maybe she was having trouble at home and needed an outside person to confide in. Maybe she was headed down a path that was going to land her in trouble and her parents believed that she was better off hanging out with a police officer than getting into mischief with friends.

Either way, he violated the trust these children and her family have had in him. Just something for you to chew on.

We as parents have always taught our children that they can trust the police as they are the “good guys.” I hope that this case does not damage that. I know many law enforcement officers in and around Brown County. I really feel this is a lone, isolated incident of one man’s perverted actions.

Lastly, as for using Mr. Ariaz’s name in print. Do you really believe, Mrs. Taylor, that everyone in three counties does not know who you were talking about when you wrote your letters? Get a grip and grow up. Your daughters may need you to some day. Now, Mrs. Taylor, do you “get it”? If not, I am afraid for your children that you never will.

Michelle Florence