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Keep Houston Press Free
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Joe Chavez: Former TABC Agent Accused Of Sexually Assaulting His Decoy In Underage Drinking Sting

Last May, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission decided that some minors in Bastrop County might have been having a little too much fun. They apparently decided it was high time to conduct a sting operation.

One of the TABC's tried-and-true methods is to send a real-life minor to various retail outlets in search of alcohol. In the Bastrop case, this decoy was a 16-year-old girl, and five-year veteran TABC agent Joe Chavez, then 40, was to be her, um, handler.

The girl would later claim that things got off on the wrong foot before the investigation even started.

The day before their undercover mission, she says that Chavez texted a sexually explicit photograph of himself to her.

Worse was yet to come, the girl has alleged.

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She claims that after a few hours of attempted alcohol purchases, Chavez decided to round out the workday by sexually assaulting her in his official state vehicle.

She reported the alleged incident within a few weeks, and Chavez was originally arrested by the Texas Rangers last June. He was first suspended from the agency without pay, and has since resigned, and was indicted yesterday by state investigators. In the wake of these allegations, the TABC temporarily suspended all underage undercover investigations until they could complete a review of their procedures.

Chavez is now being prosecuted by the state Office of the Attorney General (rather than the Bastrop County DA) and he is in a heap of shit. Sexual assault of a child is a second-degree felony punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and two to 20 years in prison for each count. Online solicitation of a minor and abuse of official capacity are third-degree felonies punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and two to 10 years in prison. Official oppression is a Class A misdemeanor.

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