COMAL COUNTY — A former Guadalupe County jail employee awaits trial in a child abuse case in which authorities allege he beat a child with his hand and a belt leaving him battered and bruised earlier this year.
Jason Garza, 32, of New Braunfels, was indicted last month in Comal County on a charge of injury to a child. He was arrested on the allegation in April following a report made by a family member earlier that month.
Garza, who worked with the Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office in two stints totaling about five years, is accused of hurting a boy younger than 14 years old on or about March 9, according to recently-released court documents filed in the case.
Garza reportedly inflicted the injuries upon the child while disciplining the boy for failing to complete assigned school work, according to an arrest affidavit a New Braunfels Police Department detective .
The detective said in the affidavit that Garza admitted to causing widespread bruising to the boy’s face, chin, buttocks, legs and back. He initially told an investigator he only hit the boy three times with a belt but later owned up to more, according to the affidavit.
“I was then able to confront Mr. Garza with the photos of the injuries along with the statement from [the child] that he was hit multiple times with a belt and hands,” the detective wrote in the affidavit. “Eventually, Mr. Garza stated he did go further than what he intended and admitted he lost control. He agreed the injuries were extensive and stated it looked very bad.”
The investigation began after the boy’s mother contacted her local police department.
According to Detective Jace Hobbs’ affidavit, the child’s mother reported her son went to visit Garza for the weekend. The mother had told Garza the boy hadn’t completed the school work.
On March 9, Garza took the boy to the swimming pool in the apartment complex where Garza lives, the affidavit stated. Garza drank beer during the pool outing, according to the affidavit.
The boy told a forensic interviewer that he and Garza left the pool and went to Garza’s apartment where the abuse occurred, the affidavit states.
“He stated after the pool they went back to his apartment and (Garza) started hitting him on the legs, chest and side,” Hobbs wrote. “He stated to the interviewer that (Garza) hit him with a belt and his hands. He told the interviewer after he was hit, (Garza) took a video of him and sent it to his mother.”
The mother reported to authorities she received the video about 8 p.m. March 9 and noticed red marks across her son’s chest in the video, the document stated.
The video showed the boy “shirtless and crying hysterically stating he was ‘sorry’ and ‘I won’t do it again,’” the detective wrote.
Police got involved as did Child Protective Services.
During the police investigation, Hobbs contacted Garza and had him visit the police department on April 11 for an interview in which the suspect eventually admitted hitting the boy, court documents show.
Police arrested Garza on a warrant served about 8:50 p.m. April 23 at his home in the 600 block of Creekside Way in New Braunfels, NBPD Communications Coordinator David Ferguson said. Officers took Garza to the Comal County Jail on a charge of injury to a child with intent to do bodily injury.
According to online jail records in Comal County, Garza posted a $50,000 bond the next day and left the facility.
Around the time of his arrest, Garza resigned from his position with the Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Arnold Zwicke said.
“He resigned when he was arrested for injury to a child by New Braunfels PD,” Zwicke said. “Had he not come in and resigned and let us know what was going on, yes, he would’ve been terminated. But he came in and was allowed to resign.”
A grand jury indicted Garza July 3 on one count of injury to a child, according to the indictment.
Guadalupe County online records show that Garza’s next court appearance, a pre-trial hearing, is scheduled for Sept. 10 at the Comal County courthouse.
Garza holds a jailer’s commission and started working for Zwicke in December 2012, the sheriff said. Garza resigned from the office in November 2016. He returned as a jailer in March 2018 before resigning again in April of this year, Zwicke said.