By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
A Dayton man was sentenced to 60 years in prison Friday on child sex abuse charges in the 253rd State District Courtroom in Liberty County. Francisco Delarosa, 48, will be required to serve at least 30 years of his sentence before he is eligible for parole, as Judge Chap B. Cain chose to stack the sentences instead of letting them run concurrently.
The jury found Delarosa guilty Thursday of three counts of Sexual Assault of a Child, one count of Tampering With Evidence and one count of an Improper Relationship Between an Educator and Student.
At the time the crimes began, Delarosa was working as a substitute teacher for Dayton ISD and later worked in the district’s IT department, though the relationship developed off-campus, according to evidence presented at trial. The female victim was 14 and had just completed eighth grade.
Delarosa’s teenage daughter – the same age as the victim – was friends with the girl, both playing on the same sports team. Evidence in the trial proved that Delarosa, recently divorced, was enamored with the young girl, continuously showering her with presents and gift cards with Bible verses inscribed on them. During the trial, Liberty County District Attorney Logan Pickett used Delarosa’s Amazon account history to detail the many items he had purchased for her in their two-year courtship. The items ranged from simple summer dresses to a crotchless undergarment. Before the relationship was discovered and reported to police, Delarosa’s purchases for the girl included an engagement ring.
In the early days of their friendship, the two confided in each other, sharing their problems. The two exchanged thousands of text messages – some innocent and others romantic in nature.
To be close to her, Delarosa struck up friendships with the people closest to her – her parents, brother and other relatives.
“This man was not a family member. He actually had to pick her and then ingratiate himself fully and involve himself fully with her family. He made it a point to hang out with her dad, who has nothing in common with him and would never want to hang out with him,” said Liberty County District Attorney Logan Pickett after the trial. “The mom, he would make it a point to talk to her about her marital problems and confess to her his relationship problems, but she didn’t know he was talking about her own daughter.”
During trial, Pickett explained that the victim frequently spent the night at Delarosa’s house, sleeping in his bed. Under questioning, Delarosa claimed he slept on the coach during those visits. Their relationship was not reported to authorities until right after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Even though his home had not flooded or been damaged, Delarosa evacuated with the girl’s family, staying with her relatives in Humble. The host family – who had no knowledge of Delarosa prior to this time – grew concerned after seeing the way he behaved around the teen, sitting closely with her on the couch or staying up late with her and his daughter when everyone else went to bed.
Two family members asked to meet Delarosa at a restaurant where they confronted him and asked him if anything inappropriate was taking place between him and the girl. Delarosa denied it, but later admitted that he had fallen in love with her and would die for her, according to their testimony in court. He was asked to leave the family’s home in Humble but kept appearing for social gatherings, even when he was uninvited, they said.
A few days later, one of the relatives reported the relationship to police and an investigation began. Initially, the victim denied having an inappropriate relationship with Delarosa, but later revealed to Bridgehaven Children’s Advocacy Center workers that she and Delarosa had been physically intimate on at least three occasions.
Until trial, the girl’s parents were unaware of the extent of the relationship. Pickett said that when the allegations were first made, the parents were in denial.
“I knew I had to tell them everything during the trial,” Pickett said.
The details were shared with the girl’s parents during the sentencing part of the trial – after the jury found Delarosa guilty of having sex with their daughter on three occasions. Pickett said he was concerned about how they would handle the news, but he knew they needed to be able to stare down Delarosa, as it was likely the last time they would ever see him.
“Her dad is former military – probably 59-60 years old. I told him, ‘We’ve never talked about the specific allegations in this case, have we, sir? He said no. I told him, ‘I want you to know the jury has found Mr. Delarosa guilty of having sex with your daughter at least three times,’” Pickett said. “He pounded his fists on the table. It’s like the air went in him and he was crushed.”
Upon hearing the information when she was on the witness stand, the girl’s mom began to cry and demanded to know how Delarosa could have taken advantage of her family.
“She said, ‘How can you do this to me, Mr. Delarosa? I let you into my home,’” Pickett said. “She just wanted to know why her daughter was picked.”
In Spanish, Delarosa told the mother that he loves her family, prompting more tears from the mom. As she entered the hallway outside the court, she became so agitated that she fell down against a wall, injuring herself and requiring a visit to the emergency room by ambulance.
During the sentencing hearing, Pickett explained that Delarosa was a classic child predator, who wormed his way in with her family to ensure they would not suspect him of wrongdoing.
“Monsters don’t look like the monsters from when we were kids. Monsters can be softball coaches. Monsters can work in a school. Monsters can be churchgoers. Monsters can be dads. Monsters can mow your yard and walk your dog. Monsters can share your dinner table,” he said. “Monsters are everywhere. Then when the monster gets comfortable, the monster feels like the time is right to take advantage of that relationship they have established with you and your family.”
He told jurors they should look to a recent story out of Cincinnati, where a child fell into a gorilla enclosure, when determining their sentences for Delarosa.
“The zookeepers had to make a decision. They didn’t have a lot of time to react. The gorilla, they felt, had an innate nature to possibly cause that child some harm. They didn’t know for sure,” he said. “They could take the known route and put the animal down or see what happens. Don’t see what happens.”
Delarosa took the stand twice during trial – once during the presentation of evidence and once during sentencing. During sentencing, Pickett asked Delarosa, who claims to be a devout Christian man, if he had asked God for forgiveness.
“I’ve asked God for forgiveness for just being in here,” he said.
Pickett asked Delarosa if he would mind his own daughter becoming intimate with a 44-year-old man, which began an awkward exchange.
“I can’t answer that question,” he said.
Pickett reminded him he was under oath and had to answer the question.
“Are you okay with it?” Pickett asked.
“No, sir,” he replied.
“What do you think you would do if you found out your 14-year-old was having sex with a 45-year-old man?” Pickett asked.
“I don’t know how I would feel,” Delarosa responded.
Pickett tried to press Delarosa into admitting that the relationship was wrong, but he was evasive.
“You don’t want to think about that, do you? You don’t want to think about your 14-year-old daughter having sex with a 44-year-old man?” Pickett said.
Delarosa said again that he wouldn’t know how to feel about it and had no opinion about whether it was right or wrong.
“So, if you don’t have an opinion, to me that means you think it’s okay?” Pickett said.
Delarosa reiterated that he had no opinion about whether it was right or wrong.
“As far as the law is concerned, no,” he said.
After the trial, Delarosa’s defense attorney, Chad Etheridge, admitted it was a tough case.
“I believe the jury heard all the evidence. They were very attentive and took notes. They just agreed with what the State had to offer and found him guilty. Any time you are dealing with an adult, allegations of child sexual assault makes it tougher. There was so much evidence that supported the State’s position that something was going on,” Etheridge said.
After the jury and witnesses left, an eerie quiet set in the courtroom. Security officers went through the standard procedures of removing Delarosa’s tie and belt – choking devices for prisoners – and shackling his hands and feet to transport him to the county jail where he will remain until he is transferred to a state prison to serve his sentences.
Looking down at the five charges that will keep him in prison until at least the age of 78, and having to place his inked thumbprint on every judgment, Delarosa whispered, “I am not a monster. I am not a monster.”