Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Nov. 29, 2022

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Convict appears in court in child rape case

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

A convicted rapist is being investigated for contacting underage girls through Facebook Messenger, including a Battle Ground girl whom he allegedly later met in person.

Jaime Cruz, 30, formerly of Woodburn, Ore., appeared Wednesday in Clark County Superior Court . He is facing two counts of third-degree rape of a child and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

In April 2017, Cruz was sentenced in Linn County, Ore., to two years in prison for third-degree rape and has been serving time at the Oregon State Penitentiary, an online records search shows. He was transferred to Clark County to answer to the latest charges.

Battle Ground police began investigating Cruz in October after receiving a report from the Albany, Ore., Police Department, alleging Cruz had raped a 14-year-old girl, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in Clark County Superior Court.

Albany police learned that Cruz had met with the victim after contacting her on Facebook Messenger, a text messaging application. Investigators obtained 35,000 pages of data from Cruz’s Facebook account and found he had been talking with several young girls in Oregon and Washington, the affidavit states.

The Albany police detective wrote in his report that it appeared Cruz randomly chose underage girls to message and then would try to meet up with them. Many of the girls, who ranged in age from 13 to 17, told Cruz their age. Cruz, who was 28 at the time, lied about his age and told the girls he was anywhere from 16 to 19 years old, court records said.

Between Oct. 13, 2016, to Oct. 29, 2016, Cruz messaged a 14-year-old Battle Ground girl and told her he was 16. He repeatedly asked her to meet up with him and claimed he lived in Vancouver, according to court documents.

The two messaged each other for a few days and planned to meet. In the early morning hours of Oct. 25, 2016, Cruz drove from Woodburn to the girl’s residence in Battle Ground, and they had sex. He later told her he was 18. Cruz came over to her residence again Oct. 29, 2016, when her parents were out, and they had sex, the affidavit said.

The girl later talked with a forensic interviewer with the Children’s Justice Center. She said she suspected Cruz was in his 20s but that he told her he was 16 or 17. Cruz pressured her into having sex, she said, even after she refused multiple times. After the first incident, she said, he called her and threatened to tell her mom what happened if she didn’t meet with him again, court records state.

Cruz is being held at the Clark County Jail with no bail. He will be arraigned Friday.

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