Teen accused of helping alleged serial rapist turns himself in

CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — Police have arrested 18-year-old Thomas Palacios, who detectives say helped accused serial rapist Jordan Benford in at least one of the multiple crimes.

Investigators on Monday had issued a warrant for Palacios in connection to one of the sexual assault cases against Benford. Police say Palacios had been uncooperative so far in their investigation, but Palacios turned himself in and was booked into the Williamson County Jail.

Meanwhile, Benford was already in jail — awaiting trial on a sexual assault charge — when he was booked on another charge after police discovered another victim who they say was raped by the man.

Benford faces the charges in connection with alleged sexual assaults on March 9 and June 4; he has been in the Williamson County Jail since his arrest on June 13. Friday, he was served with the new charge while behind bars, where he is being held on $750,000 bond.

Cedar Park Police Chief Sean Mannix says in regards to Benford, “His behavior, up to this point, appears to have been escalating to the point one of the victims was bound prior to the act.”

Cedar Park police say all of the victims are around 15 years old. Court documents talk about at least four cases police know of, but investigators believe there could be even more victims.

“At this stage in the game, its locating victims because there’s people out there suffering and people afraid to come forward … afraid of embarrassment or shame,” explained Williamson County Assistant District Attorney Sunday Austin.

Nearly two years before Monday’s press conference, Benford had another charge. He was 17 then and still in high school.

Court documents accuse Benford of assaulting a 14-year-old girl in 2012 at a Vista Ridge High School barn.

Benford’s former lawyer says he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge. The attorney said he doesn’t think the 2012 sexual assault case against Benford was very strong.

Leander ISD confirms Benford went to Vista Ridge High School. He later graduated from Rouse High School in 2014.

A district spokesperson says the district gets notified about the arrest of any student and that the district followed the process outlined by law in this case.

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