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Court clerk exposed himself, allegedly groped deputy; BCSO twice refused to file charges

August 2016 incident caught on undercover camera in 37th District Court

SAN ANTONIO – A longtime Bexar County court clerk caught on an undercover camera repeatedly exposing his bare backside and genitals inside the courthouse twice avoided being criminally charged for the behavior, county officials and public records from the incident confirm.

Jesse Mesa III, clerk for the 37th Civil District Court, resigned in September 2016, weeks after the incident was reported to county officials and the Bexar County Sheriff's Office.

A source familiar with the investigation of Mesa said he resigned in lieu of being terminated.

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A bailiff assigned to the same court as Mesa said the clerk began sexually harassing him in January 2016, setting off a series of events that included Mesa grabbing the bailiff's genitals and exposing his private parts, according to a Bexar County Sheriff's Office criminal complaint filed in August 2016.

The footage, captured on an undercover pen camera worn by the bailiff on Aug. 8, 2016, matches the criminal complaint filed with BCSO by a detention sergeant two days later.

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BCSO officials attempted to block the release of the report, despite a state law that requires public entities to release the basic information of any criminal complaint.

The Defenders instead obtained a copy from a source familiar with the BCSO investigation.

The report shows that Mesa was investigated for indecent exposure, a Class B misdemeanor, and assault on a public servant, a third-degree felony.

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The complaint indicates the bailiff, who the Defenders have chosen not to identify, was taken to a hospital after making the outcry to a supervisor, complaining of feeling lightheaded. 

A lawsuit filed by the bailiff against county officials in July 2017 indicates that Mesa groped his groin and told him he wanted to have sex with him.

The suit states that beginning in April 2016, the bailiff was subjected to severe and aggressive sexual harassment from Mesa, even after repeatedly telling him his advances were unwelcome and inappropriate.

The bailiff then reported Mesa's behavior to his supervisor in June 2016, according to the suit.

In July 2016, the bailiff then purchased the undercover recording device and began wearing it while at work, according to a sexual harassment complaint filed by him days after he reported Mesa to a BCSO supervisor.

The lawsuit remains pending.

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What the footage shows

The time-stamped undercover footage shows Mesa walk into a court conference room just before 8:30 a.m., while the bailiff is putting bottled water in a mini refrigerator.

Mesa then lowers his pants and begins shaking his backside in plain view of the bailiff. The exposure of Mesa's backside and genitals takes place off and on for 50 seconds.

The bailiff is then heard on the recording saying, "You are one sick puppy. Jesse, just remember you are at work, sir. Be careful."

Minutes later, with the pair now inside the courtroom, Mesa is recorded reaching for the bailiff's midsection, which causes the bailiff to recoil and say, "Hey."

Mesa later says, "You want to sneak out real quick? There's nobody here."

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"There's not really much I can say."

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, who is named in the suit even though he did not take office until nearly five months after the incident inside the courtroom, confirmed BCSO investigators closed the case, reopened it and then closed it a second time without forwarding criminal charges against Mesa.

"We've looked at the case in its entirety. If it doesn't rise to a certain level, we just let the courts take over from there. So that's where it is," said Salazar, when asked by the Defenders why Mesa was not charged with, at the very least, indecent exposure.

The bailiff, who remains employed by BCSO but was eventually transferred to detention after the August 2016 encounter with Mesa, was hospitalized for two days because of a stress attack, was placed on medical leave and incurred around $4,800 in out-of-pocket medical expenses due to the incident, the lawsuit states.

Mesa did not respond to a request for comment left at his last known address.


About the Authors:

Dillon Collier

Dillon is a Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year. His relentless work includes uncovering the misuse of funds within a local housing authority and prompting a congressional inquiry at Fort Sam Houston.