LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A 70-year-old Diboll man pleaded guilty to an indecency with a child charge Wednesday morning. According to police reports, Jose Maria Cruz inappropriately touched a then-14-year-old girl on Dec. 16, 2011.
Cruz appeared before the 159th Judicial District Court's Judge Paul White in a presentence investigation hearing. During the court proceeding, Cruz spoke in Spanish to his defense attorney, prompting the judge to ask the defendant if he needed an interpreter.
Cruz was informed that because he pleaded guilty to the charge, he won't be able to appeal the judge's decision. He also said that his guilty plea means that the judge will issue a sentence in his case.
Indecency, a second-degree felony, carries a punishment range of 2 to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. In addition, Cruz, who has signed up for probation, will have to register as a sex offender.
A second charge was dismissed.
According to Norman Williams, a detective with the Diboll Police Department, Cruz told him that on or about Dec. 16, 2011, the then-14-year-old girl was staying at his residence. Williams said that Cruz admitted that he touched the victim inappropriately by putting his hand on her breast and by touching the front of her shorts.
He was booked into the Angelina County Jail on April 4, 2012 and released on a P.R. bond the next day.