FOX 7 was first to report on Monday that Hugo Javier Gallardo-Gonzalez, charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting a child, was set to be released under Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s new immigration hold policy.
When FOX 7 initially inquired about the case on Monday afternoon, the Travis County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Gallardo-Gonzalez secured bond, was being fitted with a GPS tracker and was set to be released within the evening.
On Tuesday, FOX 7 learned Gallardo-Gonzalez's detainer was honored. The sheriff’s office said after he made bail, they intercepted his paperwork, then determined he fit the Sheriff Hernandez’s criteria for the hold.
A spokesperson for the sheriff's office acknowledged to FOX 7 that if the judge in the case had not ordered a GPS tracker, Gallardo-Gonzalez would have already been out. The Travis County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement on Monday afternoon about the case:
"Earlier today, media outlet(s) reported a pending release of Inmate Hugo Javier Gallardo-Gonzalez from the Travis County Jail after the posting of a bond. An ICE detainer had been requested and initially declined, since it was not apparent that the noted charge met criteria established by current TCSO Policy. After reviewing the probable cause affidavit submitted for the charge of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Young Child or Children, which was received by booking staff after magistration on the charge, staff learned of the aggravated sexual abuse element contained therein. Actions were immediately taken to reinstate the requested ICE detainer to keep Hugo Gallardo-Gonzalez in custody. He remains in the custody of the Travis County Jail."
"The Travis County Sheriff’s Office intends to review this matter and consider possible policy modifications to account for similar future issues.”
“ICE could go get warrants and force these sheriffs to do it,” says Fort Worth State Representative Charlie Geren, “but I think it's common courtesy to help each other.”
Geren, a Republican, is leading the charge on the House side to get a bill banning Sheriff Hernandez’s controversial policy. “There are holes in the system,” he says, “which she (Sheriff Hernandez) can plug a bunch of those holes by honoring the ICE detainer and keeping them in jail until ICE can come look at them.”
Geren says he couldn’t understand how Gallardo-Gonzalez’s detainer was initially denied. “To me, there is no worse crime in the world than hurting a kid. That's just wrong."
So imagine Geren's surprise when FOX 7 told him a detainer was denied for another man charged with sexually assaulting a child.
Court paperwork shows that Javier Hernandez-Torres was arrested on Sunday. The 45-year-old was arrested for sexually assaulting a seven-year old two times. Paperwork shows Austin police had been looking for him since 2014. He is also being charged with lying to police about his identity.
When Hernandez-Torres was booked, his bail had initially been set at $20,000 for “Indecency with a Child by Contact”, a 2nd degree felony. It was later increased to $100,000. Bond for the second charge, “failing to identify give false/fictitious information” was set at $4,000.
“Any type of sexual assault in my mind is aggravated and enough reason to keep someone in jail,” Geren says, “especially if another law enforcement agency is requesting to hold them.”
When pressed about Hernandez-Torres’ case, a spokesperson for the Travis County Sheriff's Office reiterated he doesn't meet the current policy's criteria for an immigration hold.
“I think because of your story, she (Sheriff Hernandez) probably will back up on that and keep him,” says Geren, “if she doesn't,” he adds, “she really should be out of office. It's ridiculous to put someone back on the street when there is obviously a reason to keep him in jail.”
FOX 7 has also learned that on February 1, the day Sheriff Hernandez' policy went into effect, three men charged with crimes against children were able to bail out.
A man from El Salvador, charged with “Indecency with a Child/Sexual Contact” was released on his own personal recognizance.
A second man, from Brazil, was charged with “sexual assault”. His bond was set at $35,000. Court paperwork shows he was released on February 2.
A third man, listed as being from Mexico was charged with luring a family friend to where he was staying and then sexually assaulting her. Records show he was released on his own personal recognizance.
“If they are on the street, go back out and get them,” Geren says angrily.
Geren says they are working toward a policy that also addresses issues that opponents to the ban have raised. ”We are looking at language to make sure we can protect victims and witnesses, so they will still come forward without fear of deportation.”
But in the meantime, Geren has a message for Sheriff Hernandez: “I believe she should be removed from office or she should change her policy and change it right now.”
The Travis County Sheriff’s Office wouldn't comment about the men who were released. But regarding Javier Hernandez-Torres' case, a spokesperson replies, “As noted in my earlier media release, a review is underway to consider possible policy changes. As the policy stands today, Javier Hernandez-Torres does not meet the criteria for honoring an ICE detainer.”