SANTA ANA, Calif. (TCD) -- Authorities are seeking additional child victims of a 57-year-old man who allegedly groomed women to babysit children and bring them to hotel rooms so he could molest them.
According to Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, in September 2022, the Huntington Beach Police Department launched an investigation into Jason Esparza after receiving a cyber tip from the Internet Crimes Against Children program. During the eight-month investigation, police detectives reportedly posed as an adult female babysitter of a 4-year-old girl and spoke with Esparza. During the course of their communication, Spitzer said Esparza expressed his "desire to perform very specific sexual acts on the child."
Earlier this month, on April 7, Spitzer said officials told Esparza the 4-year-old girl was at a Huntington Beach hotel room. Esparza subsequently went to the hotel room, and detectives arrested him at the scene. He was booked into the Theo Lacy Facility on $1 million bail.
Spitzer announced April 21 that Esparza was charged with three felony counts of attempted oral copulation or sexual penetration of a child 10 years old or younger and two felony counts of attempted forcible lewd act on a child under the age of 14. If convicted on all counts, Esparza faces a maximum sentence of 16 years and four months in prison. He is scheduled to appear in court on April 28 for his arraignment.
Esparza is reportedly from Warren, Ohio, and has connections in Huntington Beach, Long Beach, and Fullerton. Spitzer asked anyone with information regarding the case to come forward. Kimberly Edds, the public information officer for the Orange County District Attorney's Office, told the Orange County Register that investigators believe Esparza has sexually assaulted multiple victims over the span of several decades.
Spitzer commented, "Someone who preys on the innocence of children for their own sexual gratification is a monster of indescribable evil."
He continued, "To plot, to calculate, and methodically carry out sexual attacks on unconscious children is something that can only be dreamt of and carried out by the sickest of minds. Children rely on adults for their safety and security and as prosecutors we do everything we can to protect our children from adults who would harm them and ensure these monsters will never be able to harm another child again."
Huntington Beach Chief of Police Eric Parra added, "After overcoming many investigative hurdles during this multiple-month investigation, Huntington Beach detectives were able to take a sexual predator off the streets."