‘Dark Web’ Videos Show 7 Men Molesting Toddlers at Galleria Mall in Houston, FBI Says
THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS DETAILS WHICH ARE HIGHLY DISTURBING!
DISCRETION IS ADVISED!
Arthur Hector Fernandez III is a 29-year-old Houston, Texas, former mall jean store worker who is accused of sexually abusing toddlers in videotaped group assaults that authorities believe took place in public restrooms at the Galleria Mall, a major shopping destination.
The complaint accuses Fernandez of sexual exploitation of a child. You can read the complaint in full here, but be forewarned that it is extremely graphic and disturbing.
It describes videos that show at least seven different men engaged in group assaults on the two boys, one wearing a diaper, and both not even 3 years old. The other suspects are not named, but Fernandez is in federal custody, court documents show.
Fernandez’s Instagram page is still live, although it’s set to private. “Chilled out bored just ask and I shall tell and home🏠 is Houston 🌈🌈,” it reads, listing a cash app.
1. The Judge Called the Accusations ‘Revolting’ & Ordered Arthur Fernandez Incarcerated Before Trial
The judge ordered Fernandez to remain in custody pending trial.
In a detention order, the judge wrote, “The evidence in this case is overwhelming and revolting.” The defendant “was actively involved in participating in videos of a sexual nature with minors,” the note says.
Continued the judge, “I cannot allow (defendant) to abuse any other minors and there are no conditions or combination of conditions that can alleviate a danger to the community.”
2. The Videos, Which Circulated on the ‘Dark Web,’ Were Brought to the FBI’s Attention by an Australian Center That Works to Counter Child Exploitation
On or around December 6, 2023, the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation 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 says.
According to the complaint, the Australian group provided the FBI with four videos “which were posted/uploaded by the same partially identified user.”
The first video is 26 seconds long and shows a minor victim, described as a “young prepubescent male” on a round-tiled table. The child was crying and “making disgruntled faces,” the complaint says.
3. The Complaint Described Graphic Child Molestation Accusations Against Arthur Hector Fernandez III & the Unnamed Suspects
The complaint says a suspect believed to be Fernandez is seen in the video engaged in a sex act with the child. Graphic sexual statements were made in the video, the complaint says.
The complaint alleges:
In the second video, 56 seconds long, a white tiled floor room is seen. 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 sex act as was a second suspect.
A third subject remained seated during the video. The complaint describes extremely graphic sexual activity with the child. Altogether, the complaint describes multiple male suspects, but only Fernandez is named.
Yet another video shows Fernandez and two other men engaged in graphic sexual activity while the male victim was lying on a changing table, the complaint says.
A 54-second video showed a second prepubescent child wearing jeans and an “opened diaper with a dinosaur t-shirt” on a changing table in what appears to be a public restroom, it adds. The complaint accuses Fernandez and another suspect of engaging in sexual activity, and the other suspect attempts to rape the male child, it says.
4. Arthur Fernandez Was Identified Because of his Dolphin Charm & the Details Provided by 2 Women Who Know Him, Authorities Say
The complaint says that Fernandez is wearing two silver bracelets, one a chain-style bracelet with what appears to be a dolphin charm and the other a solid beaded bracelet, in various videos.
On December 7, the FBI contacted FBI Houston and was able to locate a toddler who looked visually similar to one of the victims in the videos and appeared to be related to a woman on Facebook and Instagram, the complaint says.
When confronted, she told the FBI that the victim was a relative who was 2 years and 10 months old and said that Fernandez, her friend, often wore the described jewelry, it adds.
She gave the FBI Fernandez’s Instagram account “Allegedly_hector.” His photo on the Instagram profile was compared to his Texas driver’s license photograph. He is seen wearing the silver bracelets in a photo on Instagram, the complaint says.
The FBI searched a home in Houston that was Fernandez’s listed address; his grandmother and uncle were there, it says. The FBI seized shoes, a picture card, a phone, a tablet, and more.
5. The 2 Women Told the FBI They Allowed Arthur Hector Fernandez to Watch the Toddlers Because They Couldn’t Find Childcare
The first woman works at a kiosk in the Galleria Mall. She met Fernandez because he worked at a store called Carbon Jeans that was shut down.
According to the complaint:
She said that one day this past summer, she was called into work on her day off and brought the second male victim to work with her. The complaint says Fernandez offered to push the second male victim around the mall and watch him while she worked.
She said she sometimes brought the second male victim to work with her because she could not afford childcare, and her family lives in Louisiana. She claimed this was the only time Fernandez had access to the second male victim without the woman present.
In the video with the second male victim, the FBI notes that the video was taken in a public bathroom on a changing table and that the Galleria Mall has public restrooms with changing tables.
The woman told investigators she found a three-second video of the second victim walking out of the Galleria wearing the same outfit that is in one video.
The FBI went through Fernandez’s Instagram account and found an adult male who was Fernandez’s ex-boyfriend. Another woman was identified who worked at the Galleria and had a minor relative who is 2 years and 8 months old.
That woman later identified her minor relative in photographs from the video, the complaint says. He was 2 years old at the time.
She also identified her friend and former co-worker, Fernandez, because he “often wears similar jewelry” to the man in the videos, according to the complaint.
She used to work at Carbon Jeans in the Galleria Mall with Fernandez. Fernandez used to date her father, the complaint says.
There were times she brought the boy to the mall when she couldn’t find a babysitter, and Fernandez took the first male victim to walk around the mall in 2022, it says.
Agents have since taken electronics from the alleged pervert’s home as part of their investigation.