COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Court documents show a 30-year-old Athens man admitted to traveling to Littleville, Alabama to meet a 15-year-old boy for sex.

According to the complaint, a Colbert County deputy was patrolling Stone Gap Road around 11:55 p.m. on March 29, when the deputy noticed a red Ford F-150 truck parked on the road at the dead end with no lights on. The deputy turned on his police lights and noticed two people inside the truck, moving around in the back seat.

After walking up to the truck, the deputy noticed that both of the people in the car were trying to put their clothes back on. The deputy also found lubricant, condoms, and rope in the F-150. Joel Juarez Romero, 30, and a 15-year-old were detained.

The minor told authorities that he met Romero on the dating app Grindr that day and Romero had sent him lewd photos. The two agreed to meet that night, and the 15-year-old left his house around 10:30 p.m., walking to the Chevron Gas Station on US-43, where he met Romero, giving him directions to the Stone Gap Road area where authorities found the pair.

Upon being questioned at the Colbert County Jail, Romero confessed he drove from Athens to meet with the 15-year-old at the gas station, he thought the victim was 22 because that’s what the 15-year-old’s Grindr said, and he usually checks IDs.

Romero was arrested and charged with:

  • Second-degree sodomy
  • Enticing a child to enter a vehicle for immoral purposes
  • Possession of child pornography
  • Electronic solicitation of a child

The first three charges have been bound over to a grand jury; the complaint shows police were working to obtain a search warrant on both cell phones and the F-150 in the case.