DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – A former swim instructor who was found guilty last month of molesting three young girls in Deerfield Beach was sentenced Friday to life in prison.
Francisco De Aragon was found guilty May 18 on all counts against him, which included one count of sexual battery on a child, three counts of lewd and lascivious molestation and one count of battery.
The sexual battery on a child charge comes with a mandatory life sentence, but the judge on Friday decided to sentence De Aragon to a total of four life sentences.
De Aragon pleaded Friday with the judge to see things his way.
"There is no justice in this sentence," he said. "There is no justice in putting a life sentence on a man who is innocent, and from day 1 until the day I die, I have always maintained and will always maintain that I did not do this. And to my accusers, I tell them the same thing that Christ demands us: 'I forgive you.'"
De Aragon testified in his trial and denied that he touched the 6-year-old girls under their bathing suits during swim lessons in 2015 at the Deerfield Beach Aquatic Center.
"So why are you here?" his attorney asked him.
"I have no idea. This to me -- I can't explain it," De Aragon said.
Each victim also testified, recounting similar stories about how De Aragon molested them.
"The lifeguard touched my private part," one girl said in court.
Upon hearing the verdict, De Aragon cried and later mouthed, "I love you" to his wife, who was in the courtroom.
He appeared unemotional Friday when he asked the judge for leniency. Prosecutor Patyl Oflazian said she was pleased with the sentence.
"We're very proud of the victims who came forward and testified in the trial," she said. "This is a case that came down to what those three girls testified to versus the defendant's testimony. Not only was it a fair sentence, it was a sentence that supported the evidence in the case and was required."
De Aragon previously turned down a plea deal that would have sentenced him to 25 years in prison.