Utah church choir director arrested after admitting to sex acts with 12-year-old

Posted at 10:14 AM, Jun 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-18 20:22:46-04

WASHINGTON TERRACE, Utah - Police have arrested a man accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in Weber County.

Jose Zamarripa

Jose Zamarripa

The Weber County Sheriff's Office said 27-year-old Jose Manuel Zamarripa, a church choir director, is in custody for the alleged sexual abuse.

Deputies said the girl's mother intercepted a text message between the girl and Zamarripa, which were sexual in nature and called police.

"The case was turned over to detectives through their investigation they discovered that there had been explicit notes text messages and nude photos that had been exchanged between the suspect and victim," said Lt. Lane Findlay, spokesman for the sheriff's office.

The Weber County Sheriff's Office said Zamarripa met the girl through her mother who used to work with him.

They also attended the Rios de Agua Viva church in Ogden where Zamarripa was the choir director.

Officials said they believe the relationship started with the girl while she was participating in church activities with Zamarripa and their involvement together continued outside of church.

According to Weber County deputies, Zamarripa admitted to exchanging sexually explicit notes, text messages and nude photos with the 12-year-old girl.

Deputies said Zamarripa also admitted to being sexually involved with the girl.

Detectives arrested Zamarripa June 17.

He is now facing the following charges:

  • Aggravated Sex Abuse of a Child: Felony 1 - Bail: $26,250
  • Sexual Exploitation of a Minor: Felony 2 - Bail: $10,500
  • Dealing Harmful Materials to a Minor: Felony 3 - Bail: $2,520

The Weber County Sheriff's Office said in a statement:

"In Utah, state statute defines a child as any person under the age of 14.  Any type of sexual activity is considered unlawful whether the activity was consensual or not.  A charge can be enhanced to 'aggravated' depending on the age of the parties involved, the extent of the illicit activity, and the duration of time it was occurring."

Officials are urging any other possible victims to contact the Weber County Sheriff's Office at (801) 778-6631.

Official said school administrators and parents can schedule free training through the Prevent Child Abuse Utah school-based program here.

Parents can also find more information and training through NetSmartz Utah here.