A west Texas man pleaded guilty today to abducting a 9-year-old girl from a birthday party, announced Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Prerak Shah.
Damien Dre Gonzales, 27, of Levelland, Texas pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to one count of kidnapping before Magistrate Judge D. Gordon Bryant, Jr.
“No child should ever have to endure the terror of being abducted,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah. “I am thankful for the rapid response of law enforcement to rescue this child and ensure that this defendant will never again victimize children.”
“The FBI and our law enforcement partners are determined to keep the children in our communities safe from danger,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno. “We will continue working together to hold child predators accountable for their crimes.”
According to plea papers, Mr. Gonzales admitted to abducting a 9-year old girl at a birthday party in Levelland, Texas to engage in illicit sexual intercourse.
During the birthday party in August, a woman began choking and most of the attendees went to assist with her sudden health emergency. While the minor’s father was attending to the woman, Mr. Gonzales lured the 9-year-old away by asking for help carrying alcohol to his vehicle. Mr. Gonzales encouraged the girl to get inside the vehicle and then he drove away.
The girl’s disappearance set off a frantic search by her family and those at the birthday party. They notified law enforcement and replayed home surveillance footage that showed the 9-year-old leaving with Mr. Gonzales.
About that same time, the Levelland Police Department received a report of a vehicle parked in the middle of the street several miles from the location of the birthday party. Mr. Gonzales hit a residential mailbox and stopped in the road. While in the car, Mr. Gonzales sexually assaulted the girl by removing her clothes and touching her.
When law enforcement arrived on the scene to investigate the parked car, they discovered the girl inside. Officers noticed that Mr. Gonzales’ jeans were unzipped, and his belt was unbuckled. Inside Mr. Gonzales’ car was an open box of condoms sitting in the passenger seat and one condom was missing from the box.
Mr. Gonzales faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years in federal prison and up to life behind bars.
The victim was immediately reunited with her parents and provided psychological and medical support.
The FBI Lubbock Resident Agency, Levelland Police Department, and Hockley County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Callie Woolam is prosecuting the case.