ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Deputies with the Angela County Sheriff's Office arrested a 19-year-old Livingston man on March 31 on connection to allegations that he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl in his truck on several different occasions in November of 2016.
Israel Puga was booked into the Angelina County Jail on a third-degree sexual assault of a child charge. He was released on April 1 after he posted an undisclosed bail amount, according to jail records.
According to the arrest affidavit, an ACSO detective was asked to assist another detective, who was investigating a sexual assault of a child on Feb. 3. When he was briefed about the alleged incident, he learned that a 15-year-old girl was found in a parked vehicle with a 19-year-old man, and both the man and the victim said they had been engaged in sexual intercourse before police found them parked on the side of the highway.
The ACSO detective was also told that the victim's mother had provided authorities with information about a previous incident involving another 19-year-old man, the affidavit stated. The woman told one of the ACSO deputies that the man had been "caught" with her daughter sometime last year and that she believed he was a member of law enforcement in some manner, "possibly working as a prison guard in Texas."
When the second ACSO detective made contact with the victim's mother on Feb. 3, she told him that she took her daughter's phone in November of 2016 because her child was "seeing" a 19-year-old man.
Later, the ACSO detective spoke to the 15-year-old girl, who confirmed her age. After the detective asked her about other people she had been dating, she said she was dating someone named Israel Puga, who lived in Livingston. The alleged victim told the detective that she and Puga dated in the month of November in 2016 and that he knew how old she was when they started speaking to each other.
"The victim said she was in Houston, Texas, visiting her aunts for Thanksgiving when they found out she was dating this person," the affidavit stated. 'The victim stated her aunts contacted [Puga] and forbade him from speaking to the victim again."
According to the affidavit, the alleged victim told the ACSO deputy that before her aunts got involved, she snuck out of her house numerous times to meet Israel. The girl told the detective that she and Puga had sex about four times in his vehicle, which she described as a black truck.
"The victim stated she and [Puga] were 'very close' and that he told her he was a prison guard in Livingston, Texas," the affidavit stated.
The alleged victim told the ACSO deputy that she and Puga stopped seeing each other after her aunts interfered in their relationship. She also said that she didn't know where they were when they had sex, just that they were driving "back roads," the affidavit stated.
The girl also said she and Puga contacted each other via Snapchat and Instagram.
Later, the girl's mother showed the ACSO detective what appeared to be screenshots of text messages between her daughter and the 19-year-old man she was dating. In the messages, Puga told the victim that he wanted to have sex with her, and the texting conversations changed after Puga spoke to the girl's aunts.
"[Puga] tells the victim he was nervous about a police investigation and that he deleted everything from his telephone," the affidavit stated. "He then tells the victim that they can still see each other, but they would have to keep it a 'secret' and they would have to delete everything from their phones."
The ACSO detective found information on Israel Puga Hernandez on Facebook and learned that he was working at the IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility in Livingston. Puga also posted photos of a black Toyota Tundra pickup truck, the affidavit stated.
On Feb. 8, the ACSO detective spoke with Puga at his place of work. Puga allegedly admitted to knowing the victim and said the girl told him she was 18 when they met on Instagram.
At first, Puga denied having sexual intercourse with the girl, the affidavit stated. Later, he changed his story and said they only had sex once, the affidavit stated.
Later, Puga said he and the girl only met on Instagram and then had all of their conversations on Snapchat, the affidavit stated. He claimed he didn't have any of those messages because Snapchat deletes all the messages that are sent.
Further investigation turned up the usernames for Puga's Facebook and Snapchat accounts. Then the ACSO deputy requested information from the social media sites and learned that all of the conversations before December of 2016 had been deleted, the affidavit stated. The messages that remained included conversations about the girl's aunts finding out about their relationship and Puga telling her to leave him alone, the affidavit stated.
According to the arrest affidavit, Puga called the Angelina County Sheriff's Office on several occasions in February and said he'd made decisions that he regretted and asked if the ACSO lieutenant he spoke to could speak to the district attorney on his behalf.
Later in the second phone conversation with authorities, Puga admitted the victim had told him she was 15 "at some point" and said he had the girl had sexual intercourse twice, the affidavit stated.