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2016-03-31

Warning – sexual predators lurk online

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Dustin Morris

An alleged child molester remains incarcerated in the Bandera County Jail after being brought back from Houston to face local felony charges.
Dustin Morris, 29, of Richmond, Texas, has been charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child, a first degree felony, as well as felony violation of bond conditions. He remains in the county jail on $50,000 bond.
According to the law enforcement report, the first of January, Morris made contact with a Bandera County juvenile on a social media site. Bandera County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Matt King said that the underage girl had represented herself as being 19 years old on the site. At the end of January, Morris traveled to Bandera to meet her and the two engaged in sexual relations before Morris returned to Houston.
However, he was back in Bandera this month. At that time, the juvenile told her parents she would be staying with friends; however, she actually accompanied Morris to Houston.
On Monday, March 7, the girl’s parents reported her missing to BCSO. Investigators tracked her probable whereabouts using cell phone records and a computer history, which had revealed the girl’s previous visits to a social media site, as well as information about Morris.
An Amber Alert was issued for the missing girl who was suspected to be in the Houston area. After officers with the Houston Police Department ascertained the girl’s location, she was removed from the situation and transported to a juvenile shelter in Harris County before being reunited with her parents.
BCSO investigators obtained a warrant for Morris, which was executed by officers with HPD. Morris was arrested on felony charges and remained at the Harris County Jail before local deputies transported him back to Bandera County.
During a forensic interview at the Kids’ Advocacy Place in Kerrville, trained professionals learned about the instances of sexual abuse. Established in 1998, the nonprofit Kids’ Advocacy Place assists abused and neglected children and their families according to the Texas Family Code. The center serves clients in Bandera, Gillespie, Kendall, Kerr and Kimble counties.
Meanwhile, during the ensuing investigation, Morris purportedly told county law enforcement officers that he had been aware of the juvenile’s true age before initiating sexual relations with her. Although arrested on Tuesday, March 15, for a felony, Morris posted a $25,000 bond and was released shortly.
“However,” King explained, “with serious charges involving a juvenile, restrictions are always attached to the bond. One restriction was that Mr. Morris was not to have any contact with his victim.” According to King, immediately after being released from jail, Morris allegedly telephoned the victim.
After the girl’s parents learned that Morris had attempted to contact their daughter, they informed BCSO. A second warrant – violation of bond conditions – was issued for Morris and he was re-arrested on Monday, March 21.
Bond was set at $50,000 and Morris remains in the county jail.
“If there’s a moral to this story, it’s that kids should have no expectation of privacy when it comes to their cell phones and computers,” King said. “This should serve as a warning to parents.
“It’s the parents’ duty to look at their kids’ phone and text messages and what social media sites they’re visiting. Sexual predators prowl the Internet and will go anywhere to accomplish what they want.”