Visalia man accused of sexually exploiting 10-year-old boy

A South Valley community is relieved after the arrest of a neighbor who police say sexually exploited a 10-year-old boy.
March 15, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
A South Valley community is relieved after the arrest of a neighbor who police say sexually exploited a young boy.

Visalia police arrested Israel Villarreal, 49, for what they are calling inappropriate sexual conduct with a 10-year-old boy. A next-door neighbor of Villarreal told Action News that they were shocked when they saw a lot of officers outside his house. They usually saw him working outside in the yard. Now, investigators believe there are more victims out there who he may have molested.

The usually-quiet house on the cul-de-sac where neighbors say Villarreal lives is in a neighborhood with many young children. Earlier this week, Visalia police officers surrounded his home and arrested the 49-year-old on charges including the sexual molestation and exploitation of a child. Those who live nearby are happy he is in custody.

"They took him to jail. He is supposed to be in jail and keep him there for a while until he learns how to live," said Nieves Papion, a neighbor.

In December, investigators started to track Villarreal after a tip he may have sexually molested a 10-year-old boy who lives in North Carolina over a live video chat. After contacting the child, police served a search warrant on Thursday.

"On any of these cases of child pornography over the Internet you have to seize their computer, and we'll do a forensic search of the computer to find more evidence," said Lt. Stephen Phillips with the Visalia Police Department.

The material that detectives gathered was enough to put the suspect in the Tulare County Jail. But investigators believe there is a strong possibility Villarreal may have hurt other children.

"In most cases, people who do this, or get away with it once, or do it with other kids and they have the Internet, there is no reason to think that they would stop," said Phillips.

Police are asking all parents to be really careful when their kids are online and make sure to monitor their activity. If you or anyone you know could be a victim in this case, you are urged to call the Visalia Police Department at (559) 713-4727.


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