Disclaimer: The following article contains deeply disturbing and shocking information related to the sexual victimization of prepubescent children and toddlers. Read at your own discretion.
BREAKING: HOUSTON, TEXAS– Recent court documents reveal shocking information regarding seven men who appeared in dark web videos of group raping toddlers at the Galleria Mall in Houston, FBI says. One man is in federal custody.
Arthur Hector Fernandez III, 29, was arrested on Dec. 18 in Kingwood, Texas, following a Dec. 14 criminal complaint filed in federal court in Houston, records say.
Fernandez, former Galleria Mall jean store worker, is accused of sexually abusing toddlers aged 2 years old in public restrooms at the mall.
According to the complaint, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) caught wind of the group of toddler rapists from the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) shared with the FBI four videos posted on an “invitation-only forum on the dark web.”
The ACCCE shared the videos with the FBI because they occurred in Houston and shared two specific identifiers: two silver bracelets and white Converse All-Star shoes.
Court documents allege that Fernandez would bring children into a public restroom where at least six other adults were waiting. In the videos, the group “could be heard making grotesque comments” and “could be seen assaulting the child.”
Fernandez has been revealed as a perpetrator in at least three of the four videos, authorities say. Thus far, the other members of the group have neither been identified nor arrested.
According to the complaint, one of the videos depicts a “male child laying on a changing table in a restroom stall while an unidentified man assaults him and Fernandez records the act with his phone.”
One toddler, less than three years old, was identified by the FBI through social media. The bureau presented a relative of the child with a censored image from the video, and she recognized the bracelets of the rapist as belonging to Fernandez, according to the complaint.
The relative told the FBI that she had befriended Fernandez after the two worked at nearby stores at the Galleria Mall. “He would watch the child for her occasionally while she worked,” she told the FBI.
The complaint describes the graphic videos, in which the cameraman and one to two other males’ rape two different male children, aged 2 years old. Other perpetrators can be heard in the background egging the rapists on.
Extremely graphic and disturbing specifics of the complaint and case can be read below.
- A minimum of seven different men engaged in group assaults of two toddlers, neither even 3 years old. One boy was wearing a diaper.
- “This is not a close call,” the case’s presiding judge wrote in his detention order for Fernandez to be incarcerated before trial.
“The evidence in this case is overwhelming and revolting,” the judge wrote.
“[The defendant] was actively involved in participating in videos of a sexual nature with minors… I cannot allow [the defendant] to abuse any other minors and there are no conditions or combination of conditions that can alleviate a danger to the community.”
- Fernandez’s Instagram page remained live, although switched to private, following his arrest. At the end of his bio, he listed a Cash App account.
- On Dec. 6, the ACCCE provided the FBI with “child sexual abuse material pertaining to the ongoing exploitation of a private, by invitation only, forum on the dark web,” the complaint reads.
The Australian center said that the four videos were “posted/uploaded by the same partially identified user.”
The first video, 26 seconds long, depicted a minor victim, described as a “young prepubescent male on a round-tiled table.” The child was crying and “making disgruntled faces,” the complaint reads.
The second video in which Fernandez was identified is 56 seconds long and displays a white tiled floor. Another man is seen in this video “holding the first victim who is struggling and can be heard crying loudly.” He was engaged in a sexual assault act along with a third unnamed perpetrator.
A fourth unnamed man “remained seated during the video.” The complaint details extremely graphic sexual assault on the child.
A third video, 54 seconds long, reveals Fernandez and “two other men engaged in graphic sexual activity while the male victim was lying on a changing table,” the complaint says. This toddler was wearing “jeans and an opened diaper with a dinosaur t-shirt” in what is believed to be a restroom at the Galleria Mall.
The complaint accuses Fernandez and one other unnamed suspect of “engaging in sexual activity,” and another suspect “attempts to rape the male child.”
- Two women recognized and identified Fernandez because of his “dolphin charm.”
In the videos, Fernandez wore two silver bracelets, one a “chain-style bracelet with what appears to be a dolphin charm” and the second a “solid beaded bracelet.”
One day after ACCCE contacted the FBI, the FBI worked with FBI Houston to locate a toddler who looked like one of the victims in the videos. The bureau used Facebook and Instagram to find the toddler and his relative, the complaint revealed.
FBI Houston reached out to the woman, and she confirmed that the victim was a relative who was 2 years and 10 months old. She said that she worked at a kiosk in the Galleria Mall, where she met and befriended Fernandez, who worked at the now-shut down Carbon Jeans store.
The woman told the FBI that she allowed Fernandez to watch her relative toddler because she “couldn’t find childcare.”
“One day this past summer, she was called into work on her day off and brought the second male victim to work with her. Fernandez offered to push the second male victim around the mall and watch him while she worked,” the complaint says.
Allegedly, she could not afford childcare, and her family is in Louisiana.
She said that “Fernandez, her friend, often wore the described jewelry,” the document said.
She also provided the FBI with Fernandez’s Instagram account. The evidence was outstanding; he had an Instagram posting in which he is seen wearing the same silver bracelets.
Through his Instagram account, the FBI found an adult male who is allegedly Fernandez’s ex-boyfriend.
- The FBI searched a home in Houston that was listed as Fernandez’s driver’s license address. His grandmother and uncle were there, the report says.
The bureau seized “shoes, a picture card, a phone, a tablet and more.”
- In the video with the second victimized toddler, the FBI remarked that the video was filmed in a public bathroom on a changing table and suggested that it may be located in the Galleria Mall.
The woman claimed that she had found a 3-second video of the second victim “walking out of the Galleria wearing the same outfit that is in one video,” the FBI said.
- A second woman was identified as the relative of the other toddler, who is 2 years and 8 months old. She also worked at the Galleria.
The FBI showed that woman censored photographs from the video, and she identified the toddler as her relative. He was only 2 years old in the video.
Reportedly, Fernandez was also this woman’s friend. The two were former co-workers at Carbon Jeans in the Galleria Mall, and she recognized him because he “often wears similar jewelry” to the man in the videos. Fernandez used to “date her father,” the complaint says.