A man was arrested Wednesday, Sept. 6, accused of trying to kidnap a Hermiston High School student the previous week.
Joel Cardenas, 35, of 990 W. Juniper Ave., Hermiston, was charged with harassment and two counts of sex abuse in two different incidents. He was lodged in the Umatilla County Jail.
A 16-year-old female student was jogging in the area of Southwest Seventh Street and West Quince Avenue around 5 p.m. on Aug. 28 when a man allegedly grabbed her. The girl reported the incident to the Hermiston Police Department about two hours later. She told police she believed the man tried to get her into his car.
The identity of the man was unknown at the time, but the girl and other witnesses described him as about 5 feet 9 inches tall, balding, with facial hair, noticeable tattoos and driving a dark-colored Toyota Prius.
Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston said his department believed there was a strong likelihood that Cardenas had demonstrated similar behavior in other incidents, and encouraged those who might have additional information or concerns to call the department.
The same evening he is accused of accosting the high school athlete, Cardenas was later reported to have walked inside the 11th Street Market and grabbed the breast of a 34-year-old female employee.
The store did not report the incident until a few days later, and the officer involved in the case was not able to talk to the employee immediately. Edmiston said the incident in the market occurred between 9 and 10 p.m. on Aug. 28. It was reported Aug. 30. In that incident, Cardenas was charged with sex abuse in the third degree and harassment.
Edmiston added that the cooperation of his department with other entities, along with sharing the information on social media, let to Cardenas’ eventual arrest.
“Inasmuch as social media can be distracting with misinformation, calls and tips were made to our department from the Facebook post that assisted (in this case),” he said.