DPS trooper, many others to be charged in sexual assault of child case

DA: Investigation more than a year-long

EDINBURG — A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper has been arrested and charged with sexual assault of a child and many more suspects may be arrested in connection with a more than year-long investigation, Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez said Thursday.

On Wedneday afternoon, Juan Angel Barrientos was arrested by Texas Rangers and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission authorities and charged with three counts of sexual assault of a child.

Barrientos, of Edinburg, was arraigned, booked and released on a $60,000 personal recognizance bond, jail records show.

Lt. Johnny Hernandez, DPS spokesman, released a statement Wednesday evening in reference to Barrientos’ arrest.

“Juan Barrientos was arrested and booked into the Hidalgo County Jail on Wednesday and charged with the offense of sexual assault of a child. DPS has been in close communication with the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s (DA) Office and will continue to fully cooperate with them,” the release read. “The department has suspended Barrientos. The department has also launched an internal investigation. For additional information, please contact the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission or the Hidalgo County DA’s Office.”

Hernandez did not respond to questions regarding the length of Barrientos’ suspension, and whether or not he’s being paid while he’s on the suspension.

Rodriguez said he could not comment further beyond the charges against Barrientos, and would only say that the investigation is ongoing, and is expected to yield more suspects.

A TABC spokesperson declined to comment on the arrest, citing an ongoing investigation. The official referred The Monitor to the Texas Rangers.

If convicted of the first-degree felony, the 48-year-old Barrientos could face up to life in prison.