A man police said was involved in a sex “club” that molested children was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Wednesday, according to a news release from the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s office.
Prosecutors said Anastacio Esquibel, 24, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting three children in 2003.
District Attorney Matt Chandler said he believes Esquibel should have received a more harsh sentence, but said families of victims wanted to protect their children and agreed to the plea bargain. He said the plea was accepted after visiting with the victims, three females all under the age of 12, and their families.
“It is very difficult on children to go through a trial and confront the predator that assaulted them,” Chandler said.
Family of the victims were present at the hearing.
Defense attorney Morris Stagner was unavailable for comment.
Police have said they believe as many as 18 children, mostly preteen girls, were sexual victims of adults who operated a sex “club” at a home at 700 E. 10th St. in Clovis. Neighbors said they believe children were lured to the house by candy and toys.
The victims said the defendant sexually assaulted each of them on numerous occasions at the residence. The crimes were committed in Clovis between the months of May and September of 2003.
Esquibel, who was arrested Oct. 6, 2003, was convicted of two counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor, both first-degree felonies, and four counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor, third-degree felonies, Chandler said.
Esquibel will serve his 20 years in the New Mexico Department of Corrections. Judge Teddy L. Hartley determined Esquibel to be a serious violent offender and ordered that he serve a minimum of 85 percent of his sentence before being eligible for parole. According to Chandler’s office, Esquibel will be placed on parole for five to 20 years and must register as a sex offender immediately upon his release.
Others charged in connection with the sex scandal were Harry Robbs and Billy Martin. Their trials are still pending, Chandler said.