DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Police have charged Richard Wayne Armstrong, 24, with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl at the Occupy Dallas campsite who had run away from her Garland home.
Dallas Police were alerted to a girl at the Occupy Dallas encampment who matched the description of a 14-year-old runaway on October 23.
Authorities took the girl to police headquarters, where she told investigators that she had sex with a 23-year-old man in a tent after telling him she was 19-years-old, according to a release issued Tuesday.
The Child Exploitation Squad began investigating and identified Armstrong as a suspect. He was arrested on October 27 and charged with failure to register as a sex offender and sexual assault of a child, both felonies.
After Occupy Dallas protestors learned of the investigation, they implemented a 10 p.m. curfew at the encampment and promised to check the identification of anyone seen walking the grounds after that time.
Anyone without proper ID would be asked to leave or reported to the police, protestor Rich Coffman said last week. Organizers are also setting up a light system at the encampment and having participants serve as security during overnight watches.
“We’re about to formulate and finish off a registration process that will, essentially, be that screening process,” Michael Prestoneise, camp spokesman, told 1080 KRLD. “We’re dealing with the differences and political views as well as the idea of everyone sort of bonding together as a community and keeping each other safe.”
Protesters told investigators and CBS 11 that they recognized the girl, but also believed she was 19.
Armstrong was previously charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old child in 2009 and registered as an offender in Rowlett, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Sex Offender Registry. The state labeled him a “high-risk” after the first charge, records show.
Armstrong is in the Lew Sterrett Justice Center on a total of $200,000 bond. The victim is currently with Child Protective Services, police said during an afternoon press conference.
The Dallas branch of the Occupy movement began on Oct. 6 with a march from Pike Park downtown to the Federal Reserve. Occupy Dallas is meant to show solidarity with the movement in other cities, most notably Occupy Wall Street, where the protests began.
Supporters say they’re rallying against social inequality and corporate greed, in addition to a host of other economic ills.
On Oct. 14, the city granted the group a permit to stay through that weekend at Pioneer Park on the edge of downtown before moving to an area behind Dallas City Hall.
City spokesman Frank Librio said in a statement that he did not expect this charge to affect the permit.
“This is an isolated incident and any further details would jeopardize the police investigation and subsequent prosecution,” Librio wrote. “Occupy Dallas continues to cooperate with the Dallas Police Department and the city as per the agreement. DPD will continue to enforce state and local penal codes at the (Occupy Dallas) site.”
During the afternoon press conference, Dallas police said they did not anticipate having to ramp up security measures at the encampment.
“As far as security, I don’t think it’s a concern,” said Deputy Chief Sheryl Scott. “I think the department has addressed that.”
Other than an isolated incident on Oct. 24 wherein 23 protestors were arrested after blocking a Chase Bank branch downtown, the Occupy Dallas movement has avoided the sometimes-violent confrontations with police that have arisen in other cities.
On Oct. 27, the group even marched from its campsite to police headquarters in support of the department.