CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Thomas Garcia was caught living in the ceiling of the Freedom Fitness gym located at 5800 block of South Padre Island Dr. early Monday morning, but this instance wasn't his first brush with police.
According to court documents, in 1999, he was convicted of burglarizing a home. It was the second time he had been found guilty of burglary, but the conviction in 1999 also included intent to commit a sex crime, which is why his name now appears on the Texas' registered sex-offender list.
Advocates against sexual violence, such as The Purple Door, said crimes such as the voyeurism charges currently leveled against Garcia are a larger societal issue.
“At the Purple Door, we really want to focus on the prevention piece, and that is going to be less about 'How do we protect ourselves?' and more about 'How do we encourage others to stop viewing this behavior as accepted?,' ” said digital educator Nora Bransom.
Registered sex offenders such as Garcia are required to check in with local law-enforcement agencies. But the Texas Penal Code varies the frequency of those check-ins, depending on the offender: Some can check in once a year, while others have to check in every 90 days.
It's unclear how often Garcia should be checking in after consulting the Texas Public Sex Offender website, but the site also shows gaps in his check-ins that line up with convictions that sent him to prison or jail.
In terms of when offenders need to check-in, Bransom said more can't hurt.
“If we’re talking about someone who’s been convicted of domestic violence or abuse or sexual violence -- any type of violence -- I think the more often that we are able to check-in with those people and work with them (the better)," said Bransom. "It’s less about ‘Hey, how are you?’ And more about getting to the root of why we think that certain behaviors are acceptable.”
In addition to the burglary and sex-crimes charges, Garcia's also been convicted on several criminal trespassing charges, retaliation and resisting arrest. Most recently, he was charged -- but not convicted -- of assaulting a family member and making a terroristic threat to a family or household.
The registry also lists Garcia's address as a home on Camargo Drive, however police documents related to the Freedom Fitness charges state that he told officers that he's homeless. The registry states the Corpus Christi Police Department last verified his information March 4.
Bransom said if this issue has triggered any trauma or bad memories, Purple Door offers free, confidential counseling to any victims of domestic or sexual violence