Detective Lisa Gonzales was assigned a follow-up investigation on April 30 after an original report was made two days before.
The original report stated that the complainant’s father was taking the complainant and his brother to church when he observed the complainant crying in the back seat. When he asked what was wrong, the complainant disclosed that the suspect, Jose Abel Mena, the complainant’s pastor, had been sexually abusing him for more than a year at the suspect’s home in Houston.
Detective Gonzales reviewed the complainant’s forensic interview and medical exam conducted on April 29 at the Children’s Assessment Center. She observed that the complainant’s statements to the doctor, his father and what he disclosed in the original report were all consistent with the forensic interview. The complainant stated that the incidents happened more than once when he was in the fourth grade and continued until April 2020.
Gonzales conducted an interview on May 4 with the mother of the complainant, who stated that she had known this pastor for 13 years. The complainant was provided with a photo of the suspect’s driver’s license and he identified the suspect as the person who sexually abused him. The complainant’s mother also confirmed the suspect’s photo by name and sight.
The detective contacted the suspect who agreed to a voluntary statement. Detectives Gonzales and Munoz interviewed the suspect and he acknowledged that he has known the complainant and his family for many years. The suspect confirmed that the complainant would stay the night at his residence and sleep in his bed. The suspect confessed that he had sexually abused the complainant from 2019 until April 2020.
Gonzales presented the case to the Harris County DA and the suspect was charged with Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child on July 23. The suspect turned himself in July 27 and posted bond.
Detective Gonzales is a dedicated investigator who refused to stop at the initial investigation and wanted to keep moving forward after the arrest of the suspect. She felt that there were potentially more victims. On Aug. 7 she issued a press release through the Houston Police Department Public Information Office to seek out more possible victims.
On Aug. 7, Gonzales was contacted by a mother in Louisiana who stated that her son, who is currently in Mexico, was also sexually abused by this same suspect. The mother stated that she saw the suspect’s photo on the news, and she questioned her son to see if anything had happened to him since they had attended the church five or six years ago.
Gonzales then conducted an interview with the child. The child disclosed that he knew the suspect by name and sight as the pastor of the church he attended. The child disclosed that he was sexually abused by the same suspect from 2003 to 2007. Gonzales presented this case to the DA and additional charges are pending against suspect.
Her supervisors agree that Detective Lisa Gonzales did an amazing investigation and displayed the core values of the Houston Police Department and stood up for those that are most vulnerable when they had no one else to stand up for them.
Gonzales has brought justice to the family and victims who were taken advantage of by a suspect who used his power and influence as the pastor of a church to abuse his victims.