Francisco de Aragón, a 28-year-old former Florida swim instructor, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday after being convicted of five criminal counts related to molesting three young girls. De Aragón’s victims were all just 6-years-old when the sexual abuse occurred, and in his trusted care as a swim instructor at Deerfield Beach Aquatics Center in 2015.
The former Florida swim instructor was convicted of one count of capital sexual battery (sexual battery of a child), three counts of lewd and lascivious acts, and one count of battery. The first charge carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. In all, de Aragón was sentenced to four consecutive life terms.
According to prosecutors and his young victims, Francisco de Aragón inappropriately touched and groped the three 6-year-old girls beneath their swimsuits while he was their swim instructor, penetrating one of them with his finger. Incredibly, his defense team argued that the groping was nothing more than a teaching technique. De Aragón later testified on his own behalf, claiming that the alleged molestation was “accidental contact.”
“I would never in a million years molest a child.”
Throughout his trial, the Florida swim instructor maintained his innocence, attempting to explain his 6-year-old victims may have misinterpreted his training technique as something inappropriate. As CBS Miami reports, one victim said that she didn’t report the abuse sooner because she was scared.
Florida swim instructor de Aragón was so adamant of his innocence that he turned down a plea deal that would have allowed him to be released from prison after only 25 years.
According to prosecutors, however, in order for the jury in the case to find him not guilty, they would have to believe that all three 6-year-old victims “made up a story” that he had been molesting them during their swimming lessons. When all was said and done, the jury apparently found the victims’ testimony credible.
Still, Francisco de Aragón argues that the girls made the whole thing up — or “misinterpreted” his touching. The former swim instructor, who was handcuffed immediately after he was found guilty on the first criminal count of capital sexual battery, says that the jury got it wrong. In a statement, he swore that he is innocent of the molesting allegations and not “some monster” or “secret pedophile,” all while insisting that there is “no justice” in his conviction or life sentence.
“This is not me. There is no justice in this sentence. There is no justice in putting a life sentence on a man who is innocent. The facts in this case show innocence, not guilty, not that I am some monster, not that I am some sort of molester, some secret pedophile.”
Savannah de Aragón, the wife of the former swim instructor-turned-convicted child sex offender, reportedly fled the Florida courtroom in tears after her husband was sentenced. She later went on to speak to the media, expressing concern not for the child victims in this troubling case of child molestation, but rather for her husband’s safety behind bars. Specifically, Savannah de Aragón is concerned that her husband’s status as a convicted child sex offender may put him in danger.
“I’m scared and terrified he is going to get hurt in there.”
While the former Florida swim instructor maintains his innocence, prosecutor Stacey Horowitz is “thrilled” that he will be spending the rest of his life in prison.
“We’re thrilled with the verdict. The parents couldn’t be happier. We’re happy it’s over and happy that they came forward and they told and got through it.”
The victims’ families declined to speak to the media after the sentencing.
Francisco de Aragón’s defense attorney says that his client intends to appeal.
[Featured Image by Broward County Sheriffs Office]